fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewschildren's fantasy book reviews Neil Gaiman The Dangerous AlphabetThe Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has paired up with illustrator Gris Grimly to create The Dangerous Alphabet. This is not an alphabet book for young readers, unless you like staying up with them all night as they stare at shadows in the corner. Rather, Gaiman wrote a ghostly piratical poem in 26 lines, each starting with a letter of the alphabet, and then gave it to Gris Grimly to illustrate.

Grimly’s style is dark and grim — with a name like Gris Grimly, what do you expect? — what I can only describe as a post-apocalyptic Edward Gorey drawing left out in the rain. As much as I love art, I’m not an expert, but I think the illustrations are a combination of pen and ink with watercolor washes, and they show two little children running for their lives as they get sucked into a horrible world in the city sewers. (It’s rumored Gaiman refuses to go underground anymore.)

This gothic poem should be reserved for older children and adults, but it’s grim drawings and sparse tale will bring you back over and over again to discover the truly amazing detail two incredibly talented authors have managed to pack into 29 pages. I have an overly active imagination, so I tend not to look at art as detailed in morbidity as this, so it is quite likely that those who are less sensitive to their imagination taking hold of them will probably enjoy this more than I did.

The Dangerous Alphabet — Ages 4-8. (2008) Publisher: A is for Always, that’s where we embark… Two children, treasure map in hand, and their pet gazelle sneak past their father, out of their house, and into a world beneath the city, where monsters and pirates roam. Will they find the treasure? Will theyfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews make it out alive? The Dangerous Alphabet is a tale of adventure, piracy, danger, and heroism told in twenty-six alphabetical lines — although even the alphabet is not to be relied upon here. A delightfully dangerous journey from national bestselling author Neil Gaiman and the monstrously talented Gris Grimly, The Dangerous Alphabet is sure to captivate and chill young readers.


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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