Words & Illustration by Bruno Munari
Published by Edizioni Corraini (Italian edition) and Chronicle Books (English edition)
I purchased this classic children's alphabet book from Present&Correct on a recent trip to London. The Italian edition of this book is a little bit harder to find than the English version but is worth hunting down as it includes all text in both Italian and English. I love to find bilingual books for my little library so I was very happy to find this one!
Illustrated by the late great Italian artist & designer Bruno Munari, the book starts with an Ant on an Apple, and continues with a Blue Butterfly, Banana and a Book. As to be expected, the entire alphabet is illustrated. The book features many predictable items such as a dog, elephant and fish but there is also many fun and random inclusions such as a vertical violet violin and a watermelon on a wagon with a wooden wheel. The book is filled with lots of gorgeous details. Some of the illustrations do appear a little dated now (such as the Ticket & Telephone) but I think that they still remain easily recognisable.
The letter 'F' is beautifully illustrated using a Fly, a Flower, a Feather, more Flies and a Fish. There is a pesky fly that breaks free of his own 'F' page and reappears throughout the book in the Green Grass ("still another fly!), under a Hammer ("look out, fly!") and close to an Icecream ("shoo, fly!"). Just as you think that the fly has disappeared, it reappears to the amusement of little readers on the letter 'V' as "a fly on a Voyage". The book ends with the fly making the final sound for the letter Zzzzzz.
Each letter of the alphabet is printed large and black and contrasts sharply with the crisp white pages. The book illustrations are bold and detailed using a great variety of gorgeous colours. Bright illustrations sit confidently within large areas of white space and Munari uses paint brushstrokes and gradients of colour washes to provide detail.
Originally published in 1960, this classic alphabet book is funny, witty and beautifully illustrated. I love to include classic books by great artists in my little library and a children's book by Bruno Munari is definitely one to be shared with our littlest readers.
Reviewed by Georgia White