Illustrator: Charley Harper
Publisher: AMMO Books
Anyone who has a child knows: babies love to chew on books. To that end, some enterprising young executive decided to put pictures on thick cardboard slabs, so that the child doesn’t choke on paper. Whoever he was, he deserves a throne in heaven. And not a cardboard one either. But if you do your shopping at most big bookstores, your selection is terribly limited. So, I always jump at the chance to buy a new/ undiscovered board book.
Charley Harper ABCs was no exception. Harper is one of the iconic illustrators of mid-century modernism in America; he was also a naturalist. He lived in Cincinnati, and spent most of his time drawing birds, insects, and various other types of wildlife. His work is geometric in form, and simple–but accurate and filled with small but delightful details.
The 21st Century interior designer Todd Oldham has recently spearheaded a new interest in Harpers work. Suddenly Harper is popping up everywhere. But this Board Book is definitely the best re-incarnation yet.
Harper’s art is the real star here, so I don’t have much else to say, except that I do think it is valuable to expose children, even at this early an age, to really beautiful, colorful, and interesting pictures. And this is another fun way to read the ABCs. Some of the images are quite complex (the Zebra for example is a close-up of his iconic Serengeti Spaghetti, but others are bright, crisp, and easy on the eyes of a young baby. Some are terribly funny too–like the Hen, which is my favorite. You’ll just have to buy the bookto see it.