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The Z Was Zapped
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The Z Was Zapped

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,796 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
A dramatic black-and-white presentation of the alphabet in which the two-time Caldecott Medalist depicts a mysterious transformation of each letter.
Paperback, 56 pages
Published October 26th 1998 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 17, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
This was an excellent book, made especially so by the illustrations. Great for all ages, it has something even the adults will love. The pictures are kind of goth and creepy which kept me interested, and my preschoolers loved guessing which letter the picture showed. My 5 yr old who is in first grade loved trying to guess what verb that began with that letter, was happening to the letter before I turned the page. Overall a great education and fun read for all.
Although I appreciate the concept of The Z Was Zapped, I find it somewhat confusing and distracting that the letters are not on the same page as the words describing them (and I probably would have found this even more of an issue as a child). I kept having to flip back and forth, which became a bit of a tedium, and actually rather annoying. While the alliterative text definitely tickles my poetic fancy (and I actually find the general sense of morbidity, the fact that the alphabet letters are o ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Julia rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, 2015
Ehhhh. I really enjoy Chris Van Allsburg's stuff. He's a wonderful illustrator and a very good children's author. But this one just didn't do it for me. It was just a picture of a letter on stage and something was happening to the letter, and the next page would say what happened (example: the A was in an avalanche; the Z was zapped). It includes all the letters in the English alphabet. But I just didn't really enjoy it. Maybe this one is more enjoyable for children.
Oct 20, 2008 Lara's rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents and children 2yrs-5yrs
Shelves: picture-books
Synopsis : Something is a foot within the Alphabet Theater! A dramatic portrayal in twenty-six acts, with moments both poignant and painful. This production is sure to capture the attention of all who experience it. With strong associations between words and letters. Could this be an alphabet book in disguise?
Review : Presented in classic theater style, Chris Van Allsburg creates a world of familiar ABC characters that are going through some tough, frightening times. The "A" is being over run
Apr 11, 2010 Ronyell rated it it was amazing
The Z was Zapped” is another surreal book from the creative mind of Chris Van Allsburg, the well-known author of “Jumanji.” In this book, the Alphabet Theatre introduces a play where all twenty-six letters of the alphabet are somehow involved in some kind of unfortunate mishap. “The Z was Zapped” will surely be an instant treat for children who want to learn the alphabet in a more creative way.

Chris Van Allsburg has done a magnificent job on both the writing and the illustrations in this book.
Melissa Long
Feb 06, 2012 Melissa Long rated it did not like it
At first glance, it is easy to see that this book was made in a portrait format. I believe this is because the book is acting as if you are watching a stage performance; therefore, each illustration acts as the actor and calls for a portrait style view. Another interesting aspect of the book is that all of the illustrations are in black and white. I believe this was done to create a more serious mood for the reader as well as express a certain level of creepiness and darkness. The font is also ...more
Joanne G.
May 04, 2014 Joanne G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many years ago (1988), I was a mother of a toddlers and was knee-deep in primary colors, silly jingles, and diapers (nice visual, huh?). The tots and I were frequent visitors to our public library which was only a short walk from our home. We left laden with bags of books each time. In fact, our library instituted a check-out limit (25 books per card) because of our family, but that only meant that we had to visit every other day instead of every third or fourth.

Anyhoo, out of all of the hundre
Shanna Gonzalez
May 28, 2009 Shanna Gonzalez rated it liked it
Shelves: children-04-08
This alphabet book is quite a unique production; each letter appears on the right-hand side of the book, then when the page is turned a brief bit of text is given: "The A was in an Avalanche," "The B was badly bitten," and so on. This lends a bit of a wordless-book experience, since the image must be interpreted before the text is read.

It is rendered in black-and-white charcoal, and unlike most alphabet books, the scene never shifts, but their presentation is called "a Play in 26 acts." The arti
Oct 02, 2013 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a dramatic and entertaining alphabet book that engages your brain as you try to imagine the narrative that goes with each picture. The alphabet is presented in '26 Acts,' with each letter on one page in a scene that is explained on the reverse side of the page.

We had a blast guessing what the words would be and we had lots of laughs over the images and the narrative. The 'play' has a bit of a film-noir theme, with black and white images and dangerous themes. Overall, it's a fun and shor
Giselle Avina
Sep 21, 2012 Giselle Avina rated it really liked it
In terms of alphabet books, I found this one to be highly entertaining and hilarious. The book goes through each letter of the alphabet, and something unpleasant ends up happening to each letter! For example, the D was drowned, the N was nailed, and the Z was zapped. The illustrations are funny and I found my self eagerly turning to the next page to see what happens to the next letter. The one thing I found a little irritating, however, was the location of the text. The text for each picture was ...more
Jordan Santoro
Feb 06, 2012 Jordan Santoro rated it really liked it
This unique "alphabet" book was clever and fun to read. The black-and-white (pencil) drawn illustrations are impressing, mostly because of their ability to convey texture, depth, and fine detail. Chris Van Allsburg include an illustration of each single letter of the alphabet (in 26 "acts") undergoing some type of strange change on a page. Following this page is a short explanation on the next page about the previously shown letter (such as: "The F was firmly flattened"). The alliteration, the ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, reviewed
This was such a fun ABC book! The way that the book is laid out makes it a great vocabulary builder, a fun guessing game, and an entertaining excercise in observation and creative thinking. The kids had a ball trying to figure what actions were happening to the letters in this book. They usually aren't all that wild about ABC books, but this one is right up there with their favorites (Superhero ABC, and just about any ABC book by Jerry Pallotta). I had a lot of fun with it, too, and the pictures ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
I've always liked Van Allsburg. My 5 year old (and I) had a lot of fun guessing what each picture was depicting. And she enjoyed it through multiple rereadings as well. The book is set up so that the picture is on one page and the words (one line for each letter) were on the following page. I like the illustrations and found that many of the events occurring to each letter were quite creative.
Nicole Thompson
Sep 20, 2011 Nicole Thompson rated it really liked it
this is a good book for younger children because it brings into account different letters and associating them to different words; however, the illustrations and tone of the book may not be appropriate. this book goes through each letter of the alphabet and talks about something happening to the letter. hence the name: "the z was zapped."
Inspired Kathy
May 09, 2009 Inspired Kathy rated it it was amazing
I loved this alphabet book. I had fun trying to see if I could guess what was happening to each letter. The A was in an avalanche. The B was badly bitten, etc.
The Docta
Rather morbit, but well drawn.
Rachel Denny
Title: The Z Was Zapped
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Genre: Alphabet
Theme(s): Alphabet, theatre
Opening line/sentence:
The A was in an avalanche
The B was badly bitter

Brief Book Summary:
In this alphabet book, each page holds a sentence for a letter, and there is a dramatic element added because the illustrations show that letter on a stage acting out whatever happened to them. The illustrations all in black and white. The book continues for all 26 letters.

First Profess
Kiersten Knapp
Oct 26, 2016 Kiersten Knapp rated it really liked it
Shelves: alphabet
1. Although this book did not win any awards, the author has received the Caldecott award.
2. This book is meant for children in grades 3-5.
3. Like Alphabet City, this book goes through each letter on each page. But, every letter has an action being done to them, with that action beginning with the letter. This is also a alphabet book that is wordless.
4. I like this book because it gives the reader a way to easily remember what thee letter sound like, because of the action that is being done to t
Savanna Kandiko
Nov 28, 2016 Savanna Kandiko rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abc-book
This is an ABC book that holds the students’ interest all the way through. Dramatic actions happen to each letter of the alphabet, students will never be able to guess what will happen on the next page.
Nov 21, 2016 nami rated it it was amazing
Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations are wonderful as always, and slightly eerie in this book which I adore. I enjoyed guessing what word went with each letter and image before turning the page.
Jessica Murphy
Oct 09, 2015 Jessica Murphy rated it really liked it
Title: The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts
Author & Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Genre: ABC Book
Theme(s): Alphabet Recognition, Comedy/Humor

Opening line/sentence: The A was in an Avalanche.

Brief Book Summary: This creative alphabet book depicts a play in twenty-six acts with each letter having its own time on the stage. Each letter is shown doing something that corresponds to that letter.

Professional Recommendation/Review #1: Van Allsburg's latest is not an alphabet book but
Alex Heyn
Oct 26, 2016 Alex Heyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mentor-texts
Purpose: Letter Identification, Letter-Sound Correspondence
Drew Graham
Dec 01, 2016 Drew Graham rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Presenting a dramatic presentation starring the artistic alphabet and amusing alliteration.

Chris Van Allsburg + alphabet book + dramatic presentation in 26 brief acts = pretty great. The layout seemed a bit odd to me at first but I can see why the text would be on the page after the corresponding illustration. I love the hands on K so much.
Love Chris Van Allsburg! I am surprised I haven't read this story yet. Working with kindergarten, now has me revisiting one of my favorite genres of picture books...alphabet books. I loved how this one featured black and white illustrations, and featured the act theme (act 1, act 2, etc.). I found myself trying to guess the word being used to describe what happened to each letter--love that type of engagement.
Feb 02, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully-done alphabet book. Presented as "A Play In Twenty-Six Acts," this picture book illustrates the tragic event that occurs to each letter of the alphabet during its turn onstage, then on the reverse side of the page explains what happened, capitalizing the letter and the illustrated incident that also begins with that letter. For example, "The A was in an Avalanche" and "The B was badly Bitten." Often, as in the page of the letter B, there is another word in the sentence that ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The stage is set for a unique theatrical production in this unconventional alphabet book. Detailed black and white pencil illustrations transport the reader to the vaudeville-like stage of the “Alphabet Theatre.” In a play of twenty-six acts (one for each member of the alphabet), each letter experiences a character specific circumstance. As the title relays, the Z is zapped while other letters endure such conditions as being bitten, hidden, overgrown, and uprooted. The illustration for each act ...more
Chelsea Gail Smith
Jan 30, 2013 Chelsea Gail Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: abc-book
The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg is a fun interpretation on teaching the alphabet. What struck me at first was written on the first page was, "The Alphabet Theatre Proudly Presents The Z Was Zapped A Play in Twenty- Six Acts". Right off the bat I knew that this was going to be written like a play in some way. I thought this would be perfect for children because a play is very familiar to them. The first page starts out with just a picture of a capital A with rocks falling on top of it. ...more
Meshi Zilberstein
Jun 06, 2016 Meshi Zilberstein marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alphabet
This book has not received any awards.

This book is appropriate for ages PreK-2

This book presents the alphabet in a 26 act play with a brief story dedicated to each letter. For every letter, we are given a clue that alludes to the sound it makes through an unlucky thing that happens to it. For example; the A is avalanched, the E is evaporated, the M melted, the V vanished, the Z was zapped and so on.

I think that this book is a fun and original way to teach the alphabet to young chil
Brittany Harper
This book approaches the alphabet in a different way than most alphabet books. Most alphabet books are upbeat and cheerful, while this book could be considered kind of dark. In the book, each letter is shown on a stage, undergoing some sort of transformation. Turning the page reveals what happened to the letter to cause the transformation. Of course, what happens to the letter begins with that letter. For example, the A was in an avalanche. It is a very unusual take on the alphabet. The ...more
Olivia Lavelle
Feb 08, 2012 Olivia Lavelle rated it it was ok
The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg happens to be a vert unique book. It was an alphabet book that ran into twenty-six mishaps before reaching the zapped Z. When I opened the first page it was just the letter A with rocks falling over it. I immediately thought the reader was going to have to make inferences throughout the twenty-six letters. I was partially wrong because as we flipped the page the illustrated text was behind each picture. I wonder why Chris Van Allsburg set the book up to be ...more
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Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the ot
More about Chris Van Allsburg...

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