When you think of lift-the-flap-books, you may find yourself imagining those remarkably simple (not to say stupefyingly dull) "Spot" books or some other such dribble. Books that, while perfectly good, aren't exactly going to challenge wee ones' brains too too much. When you think of alphabet books, the mind turns to books where each page displays a letter with some object that begins with that letter. Ho hum, you say? Not a bit of it. "The Hidden Alphabet" has combined two overdone and usually shoddily produced picture book staples to create what may arguably be THE most beautiful alphabet book ever designed. Whether or not children will like the book for its flaps or its pictures remains to be seen. What is unquestionable, however, is its inherently gorgeous layout.
The book is remarkably thick. Probably one of the thickest picture books I've ever had the pleasure of playing with. When you open it up you see two pages with deep black paper. A small square has been cut out on each page, behind which is an image. Underneath the cutout is a word describing that image. For example, the first two pages show an "arrowhead" and some "balloons". Now lift the flap. Behind the first page the arrowhead becomes the center of a marbelized A. Behind the second flap the balloons are the holes in a deep blue B. Now on occasion Amazon.com will allow you to search inside the book and look at some of the pictures. Sadly, you cannot do that here. If you could, you would possibly be able to see some of the cleverer switches. Multiple pointy mouse heads poke inwards to reveal an M. Nails lying askew morph into a lovely N. The book offers no commentary or explanation. This is simply a way to make exploring the alphabet a fun and beautiful experience.
For parents of the sticky-fingered set, I am happy to report that the pages in this book are thick and durable. This isn't to say that a highly dedicated tot couldn't rip an L or a Z out if he or she really wanted to. It just cuts down on the number of potential accidents, is all. Also (and I credit the publisher with this one) fingerprints don't show up on the black pages. Kudos there. All in all, this is a gorgeous piece of work. One of the finest (if not THE finest) alphabetic jaunts to grace library and bookshelves nationwide. If you'd like to make a gift of an alphabet book to someone, but you don't want to feel cheap, "The Hidden Alphabet" is the lushest of its kind. Recommended in spades.