In search of beautiful alphabet books . . .
November 20, 2016 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I collect alphabet books and would like to add some new books to my collection. Any recommendations?

I collect ABC books and have about 50 in my collection. I love alphabet books with gorgeous illustrations and/or illustrations containing hidden puzzles, ABCs found in nature, ABC books that also inform on a particular subject--or a combination of all of these! Some of my favorites are Animalia, The Butterfly Alphabet, Pigs From A to Z, and Ashanti to Zulu. In short, I love ABC books that go beyond the basic "A is for apple" format.
It's been quite awhile since I've added any books to my collection. Please recommend ABC books that are beautifully illustrated and/or mind-stretching in some way! Current and out-of print titles are both welcomed.
posted by bookmammal to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
A Railway ABC by Jack Townsend
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2016

My mom recently got Dahlov Ipcar's Maine Alphabet for my daughter, and it is lovely. Ipcar is a Maine illustrator with a striking and beautiful style.

She also has Farmyard Alphabet and Wild Animal Alphabet.
posted by Adridne at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2016

English-Canadian artist Ted Harrison's A Northern Alphabet, one of his many love letters to the Yukon. You can see some interior pages here.

Aboriginal Australian artist Warren Brim's ABC Dreaming. Some gorgeous interior images here.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Elementarz is beautifully illustrated! It's more of a reader but it does begin with the (Polish) alphabet.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 12:26 PM on November 20, 2016

ABC3D is a sophisticated pop up work of art by MARION BATAILLE. It is also the winner of the Meggendorffer Prize, an award which goes to the best paper engineering of the year.

I own a copy as part of my pop-up book collection. While I allow myself to rip apart most of my books to learn more about the paper engineering, this is one book that is truly too beautiful to break apart.
posted by tinymegalo at 12:32 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rad American Women A-Z
posted by vacapinta at 12:36 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg.
Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth and Stephen Gammell (assuming you like Gammell's illustration style).
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker.
posted by ClingClang at 12:37 PM on November 20, 2016

Not beautiful, but funny: ABC U Later
posted by miss patrish at 12:44 PM on November 20, 2016

I sure love The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
posted by thinman at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Perhaps The Ultimate Alphabet by Mike Wilks would appeal? I consider it both beautiful and mindstretching. A is for... all sorts of things... and it's up to you to make the list! There are 26 complex, intricate, colourful paintings, each with tens to hundreds of things starting with the letter in question. You can lose yourself in it for days.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

On Market Street, Alphabet City, and Jambo Means Hello.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:12 PM on November 20, 2016

ABC of Canada
M is for Moose
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:28 PM on November 20, 2016

My two favorite alphabet books that we have are Alphablock and Once Upon an Alphabet
posted by noneuclidean at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of ABECEDERIA by Blexbolex.
posted by D.Billy at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2016

I like Gorey's The Chinese Obelisks for alphabet stories.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:59 PM on November 20, 2016

Bit different maybe than what you're looking for, but I love this.
posted by city_park at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2016

I enjoy Rhea Ewing's Love Letters.
posted by azalea_chant at 5:26 PM on November 20, 2016

A B See by Elizabeth Doyle. Beautifully illustrated and cleverly written.
posted by rivtintin at 8:28 PM on November 20, 2016

A Fabulous Fair Alphabet Book by Deborah Frasier.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 9:54 PM on November 20, 2016

If you like Midcentury Modern, I just came across A Is For Atom while browsing at Powell's yesterday.

A Is For Activist is another good one that I've seen.
posted by montag2k at 9:56 PM on November 20, 2016

Anno's Alphabet is lovely.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:19 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

A couple of old-school curiosities: editions of Johann David Steingruber’s Architectonisches Alphabet (MeFi post) and Antonio Basoli’s Alfabeto Pittorico were published by Ravensburger in Germany in the late ’90s, edited by Joseph Kiermeier-Debre & Fritz Franz Vogel, with copies of both findable on abebooks.

Alphabet-related, but not a straight ABC: Julian Rothenstein & Mel Gooding’s A2Z and More Signs.
posted by misteraitch at 4:17 AM on November 21, 2016

This volume has Erte's alphabet, plus four bonus collection.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2016

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert is wonderful. Get it in big.
posted by eisforcool at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2016

If you want other languages, I grew up on Halfdans ABC with illustrations by Ib Spang Olsen. It's in Danish.
posted by kariebookish at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2016

Neil Gaiman's Dangerous Alphabet
posted by MuChao at 8:12 AM on November 21, 2016

Charley Harper's ABCs is gorgeous and wonderful.
posted by LKWorking at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2016

Audacious Alphabet.
Disclosure, author is a friend.
posted by TravellingCari at 11:27 AM on November 21, 2016

Late to this, but Robert Sabuda's pop-up (paper engineering?) work has always impressed me, and he has a Christmas Alphabet book.
posted by rapidadverbssuck at 3:57 PM on November 28, 2016

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