March 18, 2011

The ABC's of Block Printing

       Recently I've been having fun with Inter-library Loan, and requesting every alphabet book I could find that's illustrated with block prints.  I came up with a pretty good crop of them, too.  I've always loved alphabet lists - on long car trips or in the dark at sleepovers I enjoyed playing "I love my love with an A."  (His name is
Ambrose, he lives in Albuquerque, he likes to eat artichokes, and he has a pet aardvark.  I love my love with a B, her name is Blanche…)  So it was only natural that once I had done a number of prints of plants I should see how well they could be assigned to the letters of the alphabet.  And when I realized I was missing representation for only half a dozen more letters, it was only natural that I should carve and print those last few plants…  (Botanical Alphabet Poster)  A few years later I did the same with animals, and these I compiled into the book Amazing, Beguiling, Curious.
        Not only are there a number of great alphabet books illustrated with relief block prints, but animals are an especially popular topic, too.  I've been enjoying comparing the word choices for each letter, and how different artists portrayed the same word in their different ways.  There's enough block-printy goodness in this topic to last me for several posts, so for today I'll just direct you to the eight alphabet books I got my hands on, and the beautiful and varied work of the different artists.

      A Farmer's Alphabet, by Mary Azarian, published by David. R. Godine, 1981.
      A Gardener's Alphabet,  by Mary Azarian, published by Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
      Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet, by Betsy Bowen, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
      ABC Book, by C. B. Falls, published by Doubleday & Company, 1923.
      My Beastie Book of ABC, by David Frampton, published by HarperCollins, 2002.  (For more on David Frampton, check out my post on his work.)
      Amazing, Beguiling, Curious: 26 Fascinating Creatures, by Anne E.G. Nydam, published by Nydam Prints, 2010.
      An Alphabet of Animals, by Christopher Wormell, published by Dial Books, 1990.
      A New Alphabet of Animals, by Christopher Wormell, published by Running Press, 2002.

        By the way, if you know of any other alphabet books illustrated with relief block printing, please let me know about them!  I'd always love to see more.

[Pictures: Armadillowood block print by AEGN, from Amazing, Beguiling, Curious, 2010;
        Barn, wood block print by Mary Azarian, from A Farmer's Alphabet, 1981;
        Camellinoleum block print with multiple blocks by Christopher Wormell, from A New Alphabet of Animals, 2002;
        Frog, linoleum block print with multiple blocks by Christopher Wormell, from An Alphabet of Animals, 1990;
        Quiet, wood block print with watercolor by Betsy Bowen, from Antler, Bear, Canoe, 1991;
        Swan, wood block print with multiple blocks by C.B. Falls, from ABC Book, 1923;
        Underground, wood block print with watercolor by Mary Azarian, from A Gardener's Alphabet, 2000;
        Warthog, wood block print with multiple blocks by David Frampton, from My Beastie Book of ABC, 2002.]

2 comments:

  1. This is a LOVELY list. I love Christopher Wormell. I can't wait to find the others via library or for sale. Love the idea of using Inter-library load. I forgot about that! Would love to find an original C. B. Falls edition.
    Thanks for sharing. Betty

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  2. Hello, Betty - Thanks! If you click on the "ABC" label in the column to the right you'll find a few more alphabet collections I've discovered. And if you ever find any other good ones, please let me know!

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