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ABSTRACT MIKE WILKS THE ULTIMATE ALPHABET. Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (P) (October 1992). 

 

A collection of twenty-six beautiful paintings, each celebrating a letter of the alphabet. The book is set out as a series of puzzles inviting children and grown-ups alike to identify as many objects painted into each presented letter image as possible, and in some cases, these run to thousands. Some are obvious, such as with the letter D where a Donkey in the middle of the image could hardly be missed, and the Dog happens to be a Dalmatian. Others are much more subtle and less easy to spot. In S, everyone will see the skeleton, but they may not so readily pick out the relevant bone parts like the sternum that start with the same letter S, or the stern and sails on the ship. The paintings are deceptively complex, and each viewing reveals more and more depth and you realize that the immediate barrage of images found gives way to more complex search and discovery. There is always something new to see, so the paintings help with development of perception, language and art appreciation on many levels. Only the painting for Q gives the artist some difficulty, and he gets over this by repeating the same image of a quartet of musicians stuck in quicksand four times, - quartering the image itself. The book comes with a checklist of the words to look for, but frankly, it is wise to discard this, and just look in wonder. Later editions also give answer pages showing with words, lines and arrows exactly where words are represented, but again, such a cheat is not required. The mystery makes the book all the more effective. The book is a great way to encourage and teach our children how to look at things more closely and it will be a great guide for the parents as well. http://www.solstice.dsl.pipex.com/mystery/ultimate.htm

 

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