April 25, 2023

West Wonder

        Welcome to the April A to Z Blog Challenge, in which bloggers spend the month working our way through the alphabet in 26 posts.  My theme this year is Block Printed Alphabet Squared, an alphabet of alphabets illustrated with relief block prints.

        We begin today with yet another animal alphabet, by Kathleen West.  This one is hand-colored and done in an Arts and Crafts Mission style which is especially evident in the fonts of the letters and words, as well as the strong outlines and borders and the choice of earthy colors.  W is for Walrus, and I’ve also shared T for Turtle as a favorite.  These have a very appealing blend of accuracy and whimsy.  West’s animals have real character.
        Dame Wonder’s Amusing Picture Alphabet actually has two illustrated alphabets.  The first (which I give you second) is the entire alphabet with very small pictures embellishing the letters.  (One of them already appeared in this A to Z Challenge as a letter icon.  Did you notice it?)  The larger illustrations throughout the rest of the little 
book do duty for multiple letters each.  Mostly 4 letters each, but by the time you get to the end of the alphabet they get piled in!  H
ere W is for Windmill, and you can also see Uncle, Violin, X for the Roman numeral, Yacht, and Zebra.  I think the composition is well done, and I find it quite an attractive little alphabet, especially for what is clearly a fairly low-budget production.
        Today’s bonus is two animal alphabets by Christopher Wormell.  I love his work and have featured him many times before: you can find F, L, N, Y, and Z from his Alphabet of Animals, and C and X from A New Alphabet of Animals.  He made both books with the same format, but a completely different selection of creatures (except for 
X, because as we will all be reminded tomorrow, X’s can be hard to come by).  The two W’s from the two books are Walrus and Woodpecker.  Plus I’ve also got another favorite from each, C for Cobra and T for Toucan.
        The moral of today is that the wonders of animals are inexhaustible.
        And also, the second half of the alphabet is far less privileged than the earlier letters (which is something people with last names such as West and Wormell are well aware of).
        So, what’s something you’ve been wondering about?

[Pictures: Walrus, Turtle, hand-colored block prints by Kathleen West (Images from The Mission Motif);
U through Z, and A through Z, hand colored woodcuts from Dame Wonder’s Amusing Picture Alphabet, 1860’s (Images from University of California);
Walrus, Cobra, linoleum block prints with multiple blocks by Christopher Wormell from An Alphabet of Animals, 1990;
Woodpecker, Toucan, linoleum block prints with multiple blocks by Wormell from A New Alphabet of Animals, 2002.]


Joy Weese Moll said...

I like Walrus!

Since my birth name is Weese, I'm very familiar with being in the back of the line with the other Ws and the lone Y (Young). No Xs or Zs in my school.

Anne Young said...

Wonderful illustrations of marvellous animals.

My surname Young comes late in the alphabet but my maiden name did not. I remember sitting through my daughter's high school graduation and she was the last in over a hundred girls - she got a rousing cheer as everyone was rather tired of the formalities.

Kristin said...

My name was Cleage, so I was near the front. Then I married a Williams.

You are only one letter ahead now! I am wondering if you were always only 1 ahead.

Melanie Atherton Allen said...

Love the Arts and Crafts one! In fact, I sort of love all of these today. Charming, in different ways. I like the little windmill in the W in the one-page alphabet. And I am also into spelling "yacht" "yot." I don't think I've seen that before.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Kristin, I started out four letters ahead, and then took Wednesdays off, so the rest of you caught up to me by one letter each week. =)

Melanie, I've never seen "yot" before, either. It certainly is a more straightforward way to spell it!

Mrs Fever said...

Oh, I love walruses! The young learners I work with listened to a story today called Penguin Problems, and the wise walrus in that story has had me thinking of them all day. And now to see two in your post!

Very fun. :)

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Mrs Fever, I'm amused by the thought of unexpected walruses cropping up everywhere as you go through your life!