March 13, 2017

The Alphabet Thief

Written by Bill Richardson
Illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff
Groundwood Books
40 pp.
Ages 5-9
March 2017

An alphabet thief is on the loose and she is creating mayhem with every letter she sneaks into her sack.  Bill Richardson, Canadian humourist and writer for all ages, tells a story of words ridiculously transformed with the loss of a letter, as depicted in the illustrations by Vancouver artist Roxanna Bikadoroff.
The Alphabet Thief stole all of the C’s,
And a cloud became loud in the sky.
My chair wasn’t there–it was turned into hair
And all of the spices were spies.
From The Alphabet Thief 
by Bill Richardson 
illus. by Roxanna Bikadoroff
Oh my.  As a little bespectacled girl and her dog Bill witness the thefts, beards become bears, horses become hoses and artists’ paints become pants.  But the young child who wears a beret or sometimes a deer-stalker is on the case and it’s up to her to make sure the thief is caught and the world of words is made sane again.

A new book from award-winning author and humourist Bill Richardson is always a joy to behold but the publication of The Alphabet Thief is even more notable because it’s for children.  Bill Richardson’s humour which has earned him four nominations for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour (he won in 1994 for Bachelor Brothers Bed and Breakfast) has the right touch for evoking subtle humour while giving young readers light but powerful wordplay to contemplate.  I wish I were in a classroom again so that I might do a sophisticated alphabet game of illustrating words that have lost certain letters.  The kids would laugh themselves silly with crops transformed into cops, soaps developing into saps, and brothers becoming bothers (though that last one is hardly a stretch)! Moreover, Bill Richardson writes this early reader in an entertaining rhyming text conducive to an imaginative wordplay that teachers and students and all readers will appreciate.

Roxanna Bikadoroff must have laughed her way through the illustration process, creating wild scenarios like a café scene in which bowls become owls, the dog Bill becomes ill and a brat walking by on his cellphone turns into a rat.
From The Alphabet Thief 
by Bill Richardson 
illus. by Roxanna Bikadoroff
Her pen and ink drawings with only hints of colour have a light and rushed feel to them, perfect for a book that portrays the mad antics of a thief.  Still the art of of Roxanna Bikadoroff, who has won awards for her magazine illustrations, tells the story of The Alphabet Thief with the silliness Bill Richardson’s rhymes evoke.

Do get The Alphabet Thief for your classroom or child’s library, and not just because of its possible lessons in the alphabet since the thief does take the letters in order, except for the tricky QU combo which disappear together.  Get the book because you’ll have fun reading the rhymes and picking out the transforming words via the art and don’t we all need a little more fun in our lives? Thanks Bill Richardson and Roxanna Bikadoroff for bringing it.

From The Alphabet Thief 
by Bill Richardson 
illus. by Roxanna Bikadoroff


Caroline Woodward said...

Bill Richardson is an (ageless if not angelic) National Living Treasure! And Roxanna Bikadoroff's quirky illustrations suit the text to a T...

Darlene said...

I love this idea and Bill Richardson is so witty. The kids will just love this one!

Helen K said...

Agreed! I was delighted to see Bill Richardson's name on this one and delighted to meet Roxanna Bikadoroff too.

Helen K said...

I concur, Darlene. Just not enough humour out there. I'm always craving more!