Picture Book Review: P Is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter & Maria Tina Beddia

P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illus. Maria Tina Beddia
Source: Hardcopy courtesy Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: November 13, 2018 by Sourcebooks
Book Description:

Let’s get real- the English language is bizarre. A might be for apple, but it’s also for aisle and aeons. Why does the word “gnat” start with a G but the word “knot” doesn’t start with an N? It doesn’t always make sense, but don’t let these rule-breaking silent letters defeat you! This whimsical, funky book from Raj Haldar (aka rapper Lushlife) turns the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, poking fun at the most mischievous words in the English language and demonstrating how to pronounce them. Fun and informative for word nerds of all ages!

I always welcome a wonderfully unconventional, sly, and unique picture book, and P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever certainly meets the criteria! Co-written by Raj Halder (a music producer and rapper also known as Lushlife) and Chris Carpenter (a computer programmer), with pictures by artist Maria Tina Beddia, this New York Times bestseller is a bold and memorable alphabet picture book.

“E is for Ewe. Eileen the ewe was so euphoric the wolves were eaten, she even gave the eulogy.”

Beginning with “A is for Aisle” and ending with “Z is for Zhivago”, P Is for Pterodactyl takes readers on a whirlwind and often precarious tour of the alphabet. On the face an impish and facetious look at the “wacky” and “mischievous words” that “don’t follow the rules”, P Is for Pterodactyl also serves up moments of query and discussion by including arguably unanticipated words like bdellium, gnocchi, and psoriasis into the fold. Vivid Illustrations by Maria Tina Beddia perfectly capture and express the entertaining (and usually surprising!) statements by Haldar and Carpenter that accompany each letter of the alphabet: everything from the more restrained (people taking “fotos” not photos) to the extravagant and bonkers (a French leopard playing “Ouija with the wee witch from Oaxaca”). Handily included at the end of the book is “And now…The Worst Glossary Ever”, with pronunciation guide and brief definitions- a solid starting off point to answer questions readers may have.

“W is for Wren. The wren wrapped the rabbit’s gift in red, but forgot to write a note.”

Quirky, enlightening and funny throughout, P Is for Pterodactyl makes for tongue-twisting, lively reading (and one that might offer educators a jumping off point or segue into talking about language or phonetics). Those looking for a more straightforward and/or beginning ABC guide will likely not find what they’re looking for here- but of course there are heaps of other simple alphabet books out there for that type of perusal! Great fun for enjoying alone or with company, quietly or aloud, for any readers of any age who love word play, I can also see P Is for Pterodactyl being used for Kindergarten-and-up classes for a raucous read aloud.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

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