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86 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every letter tells a story
I heard the author Michael Rosen talking on the radio about his new book Alphabetical. He told how the capital letter A turned upside down looked like a stylised ox's head with two horns - and low and behold, this letter used to be called aleph, the word in ancient Semitic languages for an ox. I was hooked.

Along the way Rosen brings in so many stories. A lot...
Published 10 months ago by Brian Clegg

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
sent it to OZ so not sure, but all is OK .Thanks. FK Thornton.
Published 8 hours ago by Frank K. Thornton


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86 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every letter tells a story, 18 Nov 2013
By 
Brian Clegg "Brian Clegg" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I heard the author Michael Rosen talking on the radio about his new book Alphabetical. He told how the capital letter A turned upside down looked like a stylised ox's head with two horns - and low and behold, this letter used to be called aleph, the word in ancient Semitic languages for an ox. I was hooked.

Along the way Rosen brings in so many stories. A lot of this is done by a cunning wheeze in the structure. The book is arranged alphabetically (how else?) and for each letter starts with a short section on the letter itself, its origins and its uses in English, then follows with a longer section that has a theme. So, for instance, D is for disappeared letters and V is for Vikings. We then get a meandering exploration of that theme - sometimes with many little deviations along the way, but always tying back to the alphabet and writing.

It ought to work brilliantly, and in many ways it does, but I was slightly put off by the chunkiness of the book - over 400 pages - and combined with the alphabetic approach, it is difficult not to occasionally have that sense of 'I must plough on to the end' rather than 'I'm enjoying it'. It's that same sense I might get when someone has kindly bought me, say, an encyclopaedia of science fiction and I feel I must my work my way through it whatever. On the whole it does work, but I couldn't help but feel it might have been better if Rosen had let go of the rather obvious strictures of the alphabet for the book's structure. I think there's an interesting comparison with a couple of books I reviewed once about the periodic table. The one that worked best wove the subject matter into a series of stories with no particular table-related structure. The other, more plodding one worked through, period by period.

However, there is lots to enjoy, from Rosen's rant against the obsessive use of the systematic synthetic phonics approach in teaching reading these days to his really interesting observations on the importance of Pitman's shorthand and even his affection for the A to Z (or his knowledge of the absence of the London E19 district). It's a bit like being trapped in a lift with Stephen Fry when he's playing QI host. This is the QI of letters and words.

If you are interested in writing and words - or struggling for a present idea for someone who is - this could be an ideal buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put it down!, 8 Mar 2014
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A friend told me about this book, it sounded interesting so I bought it. It is amazing. Very, very readable and really makes you think abouut the alphabet in a totally different way. Only compaint about it is that it has so very much information in it that you cannot remember all you want to!!!!!!

Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So interesting!, 30 Jan 2014
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This is particularly interesting if you have young children currently learning to read and write as there is alot of emphasis on phonics. Unlike other reviewers I find the digressing nature of the book really quirky and interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book, 29 Jan 2014
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A fascinating book, full of unexpected twists and turns when examining the alphabet. Sometimes its the origin of the letter, sometimes the use to which it has been put.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, 27 Jan 2014
By 
Mrs. P. Ffitch Stuart (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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A great insight from where we get our modern words, nice hard back and easy to read and understand and makes you think!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting "dip into" read, 23 Jan 2014
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I've only read the first chapter, but have thoroughly enjoyed it. I've dipped into other chapters and they are all different. It seems to me they could be read in any order and are complete in themselves.

Very entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alphabetical - a treat for anyone interested in the origin of our alphabet, 20 Jan 2014
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Everything one would expect from Michael Rosen - surprising, whity and thought provoking. A book to keep on the coffee table.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect choice, 20 Jan 2014
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Always love quirky reference books and this delves deep into origins of how signs and symbols have developed our language
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great and informative, 15 Jan 2014
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Funny, informative, never dull. I teach English and I found the history of poetry fascinating.
I have also listened to it on audio.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a Christmas Present, 15 Jan 2014
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I bought it for my son and he enjoyed reading the book and said that it was very informative and interesting - he admires Mr. Rosen.
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Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story
Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen (Paperback - 24 April 2014)
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