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Alphabet City

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,517 Ratings  ·  307 Reviews
Through realistic pastels and watercolors, Johnson proposes a new look at theurban landscape, pointing out how letters appear in a variety of places, frominterstates to a simple sawhorse at a construction site. 1996 Caldecott Honorbook. Full-color illustrations.
Published October 25th 1999 by Turtleback Books (first published October 1st 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 24, 2014 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Yorkers
Shelves: picture, the-americas
This would be of especial interest to New Yorkers, as all the sites used as letters seem to be there, but it could also be used as the basis for fun-educational activities like making a similar project in your own area (i.e. finding the letters in your surroundings).

Johnson is a fine realist painter. So fine, in fact, that it quickly occurred to me that he could just as well have used photographs and saved himself a ton of work! Seems like the effect would have been pretty much the same. But her
May 09, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, reviewed
I don't know why I keep checking out alphabet books for the kids. I guess I'm hoping to reinforce the alphabet for my nephew, but it is rare that the kids really get excited over these kind of books. This one was no exception. My nephew was supremely bored by this book, so he barely even looked at it. As for my niece, the kids in her class have been learning about book awards when they have library day, so lately she's been on the look-out for Caldecott winners or Caldecott Honor books. After we ...more
Apr 10, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a unique and artistic alphabet book, especially good for children from preschool through early elementary, who will have fun picking out the shapes of familiar letters in everyday objects—some of which are less obvious than others. From the side of a sawhorse that resembles the letter A to the fire-escape that looks like a Z, each page shows the photorealistic painting of the letter in its urban setting with no text to distract the reader. Well deserving of its Caldecott Honor, this book ...more
Emily Birecki
I thought that this book was very clever and artistic. The beautiful illustions feature pictures of the city. It is very creatively done. This being said, UI do not think that it will hold a child's attention. I feel like unless they are being told which letter is which children will not know. I think wordless books can be very effective and very unefective depending on how it is done. This is one of those books that becomes uneffective becuase the child will not be engaged with the illustration ...more
Annette Taylor-james
Jul 15, 2014 Annette Taylor-james rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abc-books
This book is wordless, however the pictures give creative minds a chance to be just that more creative. Place it in your Art area.
Ashley Martin
May 24, 2016 Ashley Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson consists of nothing but pictures, and everything at the same time! The book excludes words; and even though, it may not seem to contain a story at first, one must remember a picture is worth a thousand words! The pictures create magnificent settings for students to produce their own new and exciting story every time they look through it! Even more importantly however, the book teaches students an important lesson: things in life are not always as they seem. Al ...more
CSULB 545 Class 2: Picture / Beginning Book - Alphabet

Johnson, Stephen T. Alphabet City. New York: Viking, 1995.

No words, no printed text of any kind aside from the title -- only images, may be unexpected for an alphabet book intended to teach the letters, foundation to all text, but this is the choice Alphabet City makes, and it is an effective and engrossing one. The images, at first glance may pass as photographs, but they are paintings, beautiful, detailed paintings crafted with pastels, wat
Elizabeth Jane
Feb 18, 2016 Elizabeth Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find this book to be very thoughtful and therefore appealing to browse through. Johnson is extremely talented for this artwork because he has the ability many do not of being able to read between the lines, or take things past face value. The creativity impresses me and makes me engaged in letters of the alphabet, which is something that I normally would not find interesting. There is no specific age group this book is intended for which I would say is probably true as it could be for children ...more
Claire Tummons
I personally did not really like this book as much as I thought I was going to from reading the title. I was not expecting this book to not have any words to go along with the pictures. This book could be good for children that are trying to learn the alphabet, but it also was kind of advanced if they didn't already know the alphabet. Some of the letters were even hard for me to find in the pictures, for example the Q was more difficult, so I can only imagine how it could be hard for a younger c ...more
Rebecca Pirkle
Although this is not your conventional children’s book, I enjoyed finding the letters of the alphabet throughout the city. I wish each picture had a caption to go along with it, such as naming the street where the letter was found, or the building/location. The book is recommended for all ages, which makes sense because it is solely a picture book, however, children who do not know the alphabet would be unable to enjoy the book. This is a great book for children who have recently learned the alp ...more
Katie Goodrick
Alphabet City is a very unique book. I personally found the book to be fun to flip through, however, I don't think a child would have that same opinion. I think a child would become very bored while flipping through the pictures and not want to read it again. The book says that it is intended for all ages. While I do think that all ages can look at this book because there are no words, I don't particularly believe it should be recommended to young ages. At first I think it would be fun for them ...more
Madison Harmon
Sep 24, 2015 Madison Harmon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, as a twenty year old, enjoyed this book very much. I have always been very interested in finding letters in everyday objects. However, I think that while this book is beautiful, it may not serve the exact purpose that the author was going for. I believe that the abstract idea of finding letters in every day objects and in nature may be a bit too much for preschoolers to grasp. I do believe that this method of teaching and abstract thinking would be better suited a few years down the road. I d ...more
Karissa Gowder
Feb 15, 2015 Karissa Gowder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think that “Alphabet City” by Stephen T. Johnson is an amazing wordless picture book. This book is extremely well done and very unique. I have never seen a book like this before, and I thoroughly enjoyed looking through it. I do think that “Alphabet City” is appropriate for its age range because it is teaching children the concept of knowing the alphabet, while also teaching them to look deeper into every- day things that are around them. However, I definitely think that this book can target a ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give Alphabet City a 4/5 stars. I think Alphabet City is a great book for children to look at their environments in a unique way. It requires that they stretch their imaginations and really look at the pictures to find the intended letters in these photographs. I like that it is a book that children can look at independently. Most books require an adult to at least read the words while the children examines the pictures, but in Alphabet City the children can turn to the pages they please ...more
Brooke Snyder
Oct 29, 2014 Brooke Snyder rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abc
Summary: This wordless picture book shows the reader a realistic and different way to view the letters of the alphabet. Without thinking about it, we see these letters everywhere. The letter Z can be seen as a stairwell walking up to apartment buildings. It’s so unique and even got my thinking about all the different ways I see letters all around me.

Personal Response/Critical Response: This is a unique alphabet book. I would not use this book in my classroom because some of the letters are hard
Mitchell Wade
Sep 22, 2014 Mitchell Wade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As stated in the opening pages of the book the paintings were created, "with pastels, water colors, gouache and charcoal on hot pressed watercolor paper", and I think the author did an incredible job of recreating what he saw in real life in his paintings. The pictures almost looked real from time to time. I think the most intriguing letter out of Johnson's rendition of the alphabet was the letter 'B'. It took a second for my eyes to see past the fire stairwell, but I think that is why the book ...more
Rejean Rouse
Sep 22, 2014 Rejean Rouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I greatly enjoyed this book, the construction behind making this book, and the hopes included in its messages. This is a very creative book and its illustrations looked look like live pictures in a different effect. I think this book is age appropriate, and very enjoyable for children. I personally watched a parent read this book to a child in the library downtown and the child was so excited to find the letters and to describe the scenery the letter was in. This was a very exciting moment for b ...more
Autumn Anderson
Sep 15, 2014 Autumn Anderson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this book as a 21 year old, but do not find it appropriate for preschoolers. The write up in the beginning of this book is written on such a high reading level that middle school students may not even understand some of the words used. The pictures in the book are also so detail oriented, a preschooler would never be able to decipher the actual alphabet letters within the pictures. I do agree that this book could be categorized as a concept book, but would be better suited fo ...more
Joel Wicecarver
Mar 06, 2014 Joel Wicecarver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the first aspects of the book that caught my attention was the author’s book dedication to his parents. The message he sends them testifies to the everlasting effective children’s literature can create on someone. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was Johnson’s placement of the introduction because by doing so during the remainder of the book I was really able to emerge into his personal interpretation of Alphabet City. I believe this book is an extremely appropriate concept book ...more
Emily Brooks
Mar 06, 2014 Emily Brooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Alphabet City” is a unique and artistic alphabet book, compiling pages full of illustrations from urban, everyday objects. I find this book remarkable due to the fact that Stephen T. Johnson created this book without using a single word or actual letter throughout its entirety. This book is especially well suited for children from preschool through early elementary school age who will enjoy going through each individual page picking out the shapes of familiar letters. From its opening page depi ...more
Holly Reed
Mar 03, 2014 Holly Reed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Alphabet City" is a great picture book to teach children not only about the alphabet but also about the world around them. It would be a great book to play interactive games with children while reading, for example having them trace the letter in each picture or asking them what it is that the picture is actually depicting and for what the object is used. Some of the letters are harder to find than others, (for example the letter 'C'), but this just provides opportunity for guided participation ...more
Samantha Mcdowell
Feb 05, 2014 Samantha Mcdowell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abc
This was a cleverly done book because it shows kids that letters can be found outside of words and in unlikely places. Finding letters of the alphabet in places such as in the curve of a lamppost, walkways, or buildings is a good way to get kids to identify letters everyday. With this said, I think some of the pictures would be hard for a very young child who is just learning the alphabet to be able to find and recognize, so I think it should be used more with older kindergarteners and kids of a ...more
Lacy Adorante
Feb 17, 2016 Lacy Adorante rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Alphabet City" by Stephen T. Johnson is categorized as a concept book for preschoolers. This book uses drawings that look like real photographs to tell the story of the alphabet. This book works well as a concept book because the concept presented in this story is the alphabet with the letters all represented by their own picture. I did not expect this book to only contain pictures, so the use of pictures and the absence of words is very interesting. The pictures that are used are of industria ...more
Kelsie Paschall
Sep 23, 2015 Kelsie Paschall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible! This book is amazing. The letters displaying objects around the city would encourage children to look at their surroundings for letters. This book encourages learning outside of the classroom as well as individual learning while the children would be looking and recognizing on their own. This reminds children that learning is everywhere! I loved the idea of an almost "I-Spy" type of structure because sometimes the letters may be hard to find so it makes children think outside-of-the- ...more
Matt Cikovic
I think this book could be a great learning tool. It’s a fun way to get kids to associate the shapes they see around them with the letters of the alphabet. It’s perfect for preschoolers because it helps teach them letters without overwhelming them with learning words yet. It’s also a good representative of concept books because it is simply about the concept of the alphabet without a story at all. I would let kids look at this book on their own as a way to reinforce lessons on the alphabet. It c ...more
Yasmin Gomez Geng
This book received a Caldecott Medal Honor in 1996.

This book has no text, only illustrations of different letters found in an urban setting. I love how the book mixes both letters that are easy to find as well as letters that are not as easy to see. I think this book does a great job in teaching students unrestricted language is. One doesn't just find text in books and papers, one can find letters in the world around them without looking too hard sometimes. I think it opens kids worlds in realiz
Erin Lewis
Feb 12, 2015 Erin Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up reading this book. It is a beautifully illustrated book, with immense detail in the paintings. When I was a kid, I thought these were real photographs that had been taken in the city! I assume this was the authors intention by the amount of detail included. I think its a great way for kids to read and recognize letters, and to make them use their brain a little bit to look for a letter in the painting. I do believe this book is appropriate for the age of kids that are intended to read ...more
Megan Mercurio
I did not find this book to be a particularly effective book to teach the Alphabet to children. While the illustrations are beautiful, some of them make it hard to distinguish the letters that they are trying to represent. Some of the letters are difficult to see clearly. I do think that this book is appropriate for children in this age group because the book has a simple concept and that concept is easy to follow. I just am not sure that children who are just being introduced to letters and the ...more
Alexis Skyrme
Mar 05, 2014 Alexis Skyrme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alphabet City is a great concept book. I find as humans we find letters and shapes in our surroundings sometimes unaware we are even doing it. I would use this in teaching elementary school children because it would improve recognizing letters also there were no words in the book which allow the children to interact with the teacher and help him or her read. I think its appropriate for that age group because it not only promotes the alphabet but it promotes critical thinking because the child h ...more
Jenna Moskal
Feb 15, 2015 Jenna Moskal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alphabet City was such a fun book to look at. While there are no words and no actual letters, it was such a fun and different way to learn the alphabet through observation. I think this is such a great book to read to a child because it allows them to see things in the world and relate them to learning the alphabet. With the real life paintings of letters in everyday things of a city, it allows children to connect their world with their alphabet. I took me a a couple more seconds than the others ...more
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