ALPHAMANIACS: BUILDERS OF 26 WONDERS OF THE WORD, by Paul Fleischman, art by Melissa Sweet, Candlewick Studio

Are you a word person? A curiosity seeker? An explorer? Take a look at these twenty-six extraordinary individuals for whom love of language is an extreme sport.

Step right up and read the genuine stories of writers so intoxicated by the shapes and sound of language that they collected, dissected, and constructed verbal wonders of the most extraordinary kind. Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote his memoirs by blinking his left eyelid, unable to move the rest of his body. Frederic Cassidy was obsessed with the language of place, and after posing hundreds of questions to folks all over the United States, amassed (among other things) 176 words for dust bunnies. Georges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter (so well that at least one reviewer didn’t notice its absence), then followed with a novella in which was the only vowel. A love letter to all those who love words, language, writing, writers, and stories, Alphamaniacs is a stunningly illustrated collection of mini-biographies about the most daring and peculiar of writers and their audacious, courageous, temerarious way with words.

Out April 2020

160 Pages


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

I love the written word. I’m a huge book geek. I enjoy beautiful and well-crafted phrases, intelligent and humorous inserts innovative and imaginative ways of using words, and amazing illustrations that compliment the written word. This book has it all!

Many think writing children’s books is easier than a huge novel of over 900 words. I’ve written a novel–not 900 words; and, I’ve written children’s books. Writing children’s books is far more difficult. You must be more selective with word choices and write within story, line and word lengths. Age appropriateness is a huge deal and if using illustrations, you must chose your art carefully because the wrong illustration can kill your story. When I saw this book, I just couldn’t resist picking it up to read and review.

I’m so glad I had.

The collage of clever illustrations that accompany the ringmaster’s narrations are fantastic and perfect for the story and its level of read. The odd/strange and innovative people whose language and word obsessions are quirky and unusual. Don’t let the narrative voice get in the way of enjoying this book.

The book flows with the author’s humor and outrageous story choices, keeping the reader engaged to the very end. Everything wraps together in a nice neat package, presented to the reader in an enjoyable and fun illustrated read. Each chapter focuses on amazing characters whose use of words is attributed to their surroundings, life-crises, ways of life, eras, etc. Some focus on individual challenges, enunciation of words discovered through nursery rhymes, art using letters, writing challenges, etc. Engaging and interesting stories. Fascinating and bewildering, this book promises to thrill all ages of readers.

I gave it:

Four star rating – shiny golden stars

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