A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects by John Updike

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Synopsis

When a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and his son, a talented photographer, collaborate on an alphabet book, the results are a-b-c-delightful! From cats and eggs to rabbits and jam, this alphabet celebrates the everyday objects children know and love. Children will treasure these poems long after they've learned their letters. Full color.
 

About John Updike

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American novelist, poet, and critic John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on March 18, 1932. He received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, which he attended on a scholarship, in 1954. After graduation, he accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England. After returning from England in 1955, he worked for two years on the staff of The New Yorker. This marked the beginning of a long relationship with the magazine, during which he has contributed numerous short stories, poems, and book reviews. Although Updike's first published book was a collection of verse, The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures (1958), his renown as a writer is based on his fiction, beginning with The Poorhouse Fair (1959). During his lifetime, he wrote more than 50 books and primarily focused on middle-class America and their major concerns---marriage, divorce, religion, materialism, and sex. Among his best-known works are the Rabbit tetrology---Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit Is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1988). Rabbit, Run introduces Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom as a 26-year-old salesman of dime-store gadgets trapped in an unhappy marriage in a dismal Pennsylvania town, looking back wistfully on his days as a high school basketball star. Rabbit Redux takes up the story 10 years later, and Rabbit's relationship with representative figures of the 1960s enables Updike to provide social commentary in a story marked by mellow wisdom and compassion in spite of some shocking jolts. In Rabbit Is Rich, Harry is comfortably middle-aged and complacent, and much of the book seems to satirize the country-club set and the swinging sexual/social life of Rabbit and his friends. Finally, in Rabbit at Rest, Harry arrives at the age where he must confront his mortality. Updike won the Pulitzer Prize for both Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest. Updike's other novels range widely in subject and locale, from The Poorhouse Fair, about a home for the aged that seems to be a microcosm for society as a whole, through The Court (1978), about a revolution in Africa, to The Witches of Eastwick (1984), in which Updike tries to write from inside the sensibilities of three witches in contemporary New England. The Centaur (1963) is a subtle, complicated allegorical novel that won Updike the National Book Award in 1964. In addition to his novels, Updike also has written short stories, poems, critical essays, and reviews. Self-Consciousness (1989) is a memoir of his early life, his thoughts on issues such as the Vietnam War, and his attitude toward religion. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977. He died of lung cancer on January 27, 2009 at the age of 76.
 
Published July 10, 1995 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 1 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects

Kirkus Reviews

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The poems stand in an interesting relation to the photographs: It isn't clear whether the pictures are illustrating the text or whether the text is describing the pictures.

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Publishers Weekly

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D is for Dog, and the author of Rabbit, Run makes much of it: ""A dog is jumpier;

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Publishers Weekly

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``At evening/ when the grass is dewy,'' reads the poem for ``R,'' ``out hops the rabbit/ feeling chewy.'' For the letter H, a photo shows a boy crouched beside a gleaming chrome hubcap in which his image is reflected ``stretched sideways like gum.'' Clever design elements begin with bright endpap...

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Common Sense Media

Any book that likens an icicle to "tiger teeth" and describes a vacuum cleaner as "the nosy old hummer" that "bump-rubs every corner / so every crumb / of dust and fuzz vanishes / into its hum" definitely does just that -- and more.

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