City is the operative word in this hustling, bustling, urban ABC book. It begins, “A is for arcade or ads for Apartments / on short streets with alleys alive with stray pets. / A is for Afghans named after their owners / who drive them to art shows in silver Corvettes.” Cummings’ lively cartoonish illustrations depict all of these a words, plus countless more tucked in for the keen-eyed reader. (A key in the back of the book lists all illustrated objects.) The rhymes themselves are quite clever and packed with vocabulary-expanding images. Each illustration is a hearty slice of urban life, with all its intersecting dramas and scenes within scenes. At a diner, for instance, four different dramas play out, including a doorman jumping double-Dutch and a teen flirting with the waitress. Certainly city children will identify with the book, but any child should find in its busy illustrations much worth discussing or poring over alone.
Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin’s Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.