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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Dangerous Alphabet

Reviewed: June 10, 2009
By: Neil Gaiman / illustrations by Gris Grimly
Publisher: Harper Collins
32 pages, $19.50

Neil Gaiman likes to scribble different types of verse, and even includes them in his anthologies of short work. The Dangerous Alphabet is that sort of simple project; rhymed couplets which run the reader though the ABCs while telling a story. The story follows the macabre adventures of two children as they sail a bathtub/boat through a series of underground tunnels and caverns.

The action is perhaps more in Gris Grimley’s creepy illustrations than in the text, but having seen some of Gaiman’s comic book scripts, I imagine he laid this out in much the same way, describing in general terms what he wanted to see on the double page spreads and how the story should flow.

There’s a lot to see in this book and it repays several readings. The alphabet, however, is not reliable, and part of the fun is trying to figure out just why it isn’t.

This one is for kids, but also for those who ought to be reading to them and with them.

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