Books On Books Collection – David Pelletier

The Graphic Alphabet (1996)

The Graphic Alphabet (1996)
David Pelletier
Paper on board, embossed with the letter A, casebound, sewn and glued. H255 x W250 mm, 32 pages. Acquired from Amazon, 24 August 2021.
Photos of the work: Books On Books Collection.

David Pelletier’s 1996 Caldecott Honor Book follows in the footsteps (the tumbles?) of Suse MacDonald’s Alphabatics (1986) another Caldecott Honor Book. The difference between them is a fine one depending in part on the reader’s age — or the collector’s eye. Both push the reader’s visual imagination. Both provide the words to be associated with the letter and image. MacDonald has shapes and images that turn into letters, where Pelletier has letters than turn into images (A), images whose shapes hint at letters and enact words (B and Y), letters found in images (W and X) and letters made from shapes on the page and the enacted word (Z). In a sense, Pelletier keeps the reader jumping more than does MacDonald. He crisscrosses several of the subgenres of alphabet books: wordplay and visual puns, hidden letters, conceptualism and abstraction.

One can see an affinity with Claire Van Vliet’s Tumbling Blocks for Pris and Bruce (1996) and Scott McCarney’s AlphaBooks (1981-2015), which underscores the cross-currents of alphabet books and artists’ books.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Robert Cottingham“. 30 November 2021. Books On Books Collection. Found letters.

Stephen Johnson“. 30 November 2021. Books On Books Collection. Found letters.

Scott McCarney” 26 February 2020. Books On Books Collection. Artist’s books.

Claire Van Vliet“. 3 July 2022. Books On Books Collection. Artist’s book.

Books On Books Collection – Suse MacDonald

Alphabatics (1986)

Alphabatics (1986)
Suse MacDonald
Paper on board, casebound sewn. H236 x 285 mm, 56 pages. Acquired from Book Depository, 10 September 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

While Suse MacDonald’s Alphabatics can find its ancestor in Bruno Munari’s ABC Con Fantasia (1960), it also finds some clever descendants in Nicolas McDowall’s A Bodoni Charade (1995), David Pelletier’s The Graphic Alphabet (1996) and Anne Bertier’s Construis-moi une lettre (2008).

As the letters are put through their acrobatic paces in three to four steps on the verso page to become the image on the right, the book gently pushes the left-to-right reading direction. Mahmoud Tammam has created animals composed of their names in Arabic script. It would be interesting to see a right-to-left Arabic version (Alefbatics?) of Alphabatics.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Anne Bertier“. (in progress). Books On Books Collection.

Nicolas McDowall“. (in progress). Books On Books Collection.

Bruno Munari“. 19 August 2021. Books On Books Collection.

Dave Pelletier“. 10 August 2022. Books On Books Collection.