6 Unique Alphabet Books

There are several wonderful alphabet books that have been published over the years to help children learn the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Here are some of our favourites that are absolutely distinctive and off-beat.

Go ahead and grab these books to make learning ABC a lot more fun.

Alphabetics by Suse MacDonald

In this wonderfully creative book, letters are pulled, curled, twisted and turned till they become a part of an illustration they represent. ‘A’ becomes an ark, ‘d’ becomes a dragon and ‘g’ becomes a giraffe. A visually appealing book that is sure to be read time and again. Read this book and rest assured you will never see alphabets the same way again. Alphabetics is Suse MacDonald’s first book and it won her the Caledecott Honor.

Harold’s ABC by Crockett Johnson

A unique and original ABC book where Harold picks up his purple crayon and draws himself adventures through the alphabets. The story unravels as Harold creatively draws over each letter he encounters with the narrative brilliantly connecting each alphabet in sequence. This book is not only a great read but can also encourage creativity to inquisitive minds while teaching basics of the alphabet to little children.

Alphabets are Amazing Animals by Anushka Ravishankar and Christiane Pieper

A clever and quirky book in which each page tells you a silly story. Careless Crocodiles Catch Cold, Fat Fish Frighten Funny Frogs and Huge Hippos Have Happy Holidays. The best features about this book are the amusing alliterations, and the catchy rhythm that each line creates. The playful illustrations match the text perfectly, making it a delightful book to read.

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly

Two children sneak out of their house with a treasure map in their hand into a world beneath the city where eerie, unfathomable, mysterious things lurk. Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly have combined their expertise in this genre and have unleashed the most grisly, spine-chilling alphabetic adventure. Definitely not a typical alphabet book.

Picture A Letter by Brad Sneed

Feast your eyes on this exquisite wordless picture book that skillfully hides and reveals illustrations. A quick glimpse of the page ‘F’ for instance, immediately reveals a fisherman and a fish, take a closer look and you will see a Ferris wheel, firewood, frog, fawn, fly, flashlight, feather, etc. This exceptional work of art will be enjoyed at different levels by all age groups. A must-have for every picture book collector. And a must-read for adults!

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans

David McLiman’s  big and bold illustrations transform each letter into a work of art, graphically rendered with endangered animal characteristics. Spots, beaks, horns, wings, etc transform the alphabet into animals. The Moth for example spreads out its patterned wings to cleverly create the letter ‘M’. McLimans includes details of the endangered animals in a small red box at the bottom of each page and also provides information at the end of the book on how to protect and save them from extinction. Gone Wild is a Caldecott Honor Book.

10 Terrific books on Tigers

International Tiger’s day is observed on 29th July and is celebrated annually to raise public awareness of Tiger conservation and protection of Tiger habitats. On this day, let’s read some brilliant books to children written about Tigers and also read books that are dedicated to these magnificent creatures.

Mr. Tiger goes Wild

By Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger was bored with the proper life he was living. He decided that he wanted to loosen up and have some fun. He begins by starting to walk on all fours, but each day he gets wilder. All his sepia tinted friends are appalled by his behaviour and ask him to leave to the wilderness. Mr. Tiger is thrilled to do so. For how long can Mr. Tiger survive in the wild without any friends?

The Tiger-Skin Rug    

By Gerarld Rose | Kate Greenaway                                                                                                      

Sad and thin Tiger has had enough of his hard life at the jungle. At night, he would sit by the edge of the jungle and gaze at the palace wondering how lovely it would be to eat royal food and enjoy the Rajah’s warm company. The next morning Tiger gets a brilliant idea when he lays his eyes on the Tiger-skin rug that was aired outside the palace. Tiger swaps places with the rug and begins to thoroughly enjoy the life of luxury, feast leftovers and parties at Rajah’s abode. But will a Tiger always be left unnoticed in the royal palace?

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

By Judith Kerr

Little Sophie and her mummy are joined to tea by an unexpected visitor – A big, furry, stripy tiger with a voracious appetite. Tiger eats and drinks everything in Sophie’s house including the tap water which leaves Sophie with no water to even have her bath. This is a well-liked children’s book with captivating illustrations that has been enjoyed for over 30 years.

Tiger Trouble

By Diane Goode

Jack and his Tiger, Lily, lived in an apartment building. Everything that Jack did, Lily copied and everything that Lily did, Jack copied. Life was good for the duo and they did not have a care in the world. When Mr. Mud and his bulldog Fifi move into the apartment building, he exclaims that he hates cats and wanted Lily out of the building by the next morning. Will Jack let Lily go?

Talking to Tigers

By Nick Arnold

Talking to Tigers is a fantastic book about Tara’s journal which holds various factual details of her many tiger encounters. Meet Twiggy the tiger cub and join the jungle battle to save her from the horrible poachers. Also, find out fiercely kept Tiger secrets such as how to talk to a tiger, why a tiger can lick your hair off, which tigers eat frogs and snails and how to put a tiger of its dinner.

Here are a few other books that older children and adults can enjoy.

– Tigers for Dinner by Ruskin Bond | Sunaina Coelho

– The Man-Eating Tigers of Sunderbans by Sy Montgomery

– Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

Do add in your favourite books on Tigers in the comment section below.

The Smart Librarian – Joseph Colin

Hippocampus in conversation with the enthusiastic and committed librarian – Joseph Colin of Bangalore International School, Yelahanka.

  1. What inspired you to become a librarian?

I have always loved books and children, ergo wanted to be a library teacher. But if I have to name a person who inspired me, it would be my college librarian – Mr Tom. Our college library is a huge building and I was looking for “The Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald and I did not know where to begin looking for it. I  had just asked him once, and he instantly ran to the second floor took a right, ran few more meters, reached a shelf and pulled the book out. I was fascinated that knew a lot about books.

  1. What motivates you each day?

My students and their happy faces.

  1. What do you enjoy most about being a librarian?

Reading and telling African folk tales. Especially to children of Grades 2 to 5.

  1. What are the challenges you face and how do you tackle them?

Handling grades 7 and grade 8. (Bursts into laughter) Don’t publish this, I am still figuring ways to tackle them.

  1. How do you choose books for your library and how often?

I do surveys, take feed back and books recommendations from students and teachers.  I also do a little research online about new books. This is an ongoing, through-the year process.

  1. What is your favourite area/section in the library?

That small room where I read and tell stories with walls embellished with children’s artwork and writings.

  1. Do you involve children in the running of the library?

Not much. However children’s recommendations are taken into consideration while procuring books.

  1. What are your thoughts about guided reading programs?

I leave that to the English teachers.

  1. Which are the 5 most popular titles/series in your library.

All Dr.Seuss and Geronimo Stilton Books  among the younger age group.

The Harry Porter series, The Hunger Games Series, and all books by John Green among middle and high school children.

  1. What are your favourite children’s books?

It is difficult to name just a few. However, I really like all  Dr.Seuss books, all Eric Carle books, And books about African Folk tales.

Award-Winning Children’s Author Arundhati Venkatesh

Arundhati Venkatesh is an award-winning children’s writer.

Her chapter book, Petu Pumpkin Tooth Troubles, won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2015 for India, Middle East and Asia. Petu Pumpkin Tiffin Thief was also voted to the top 3 in the RivoKids Hindustan Times Parents and Kids Choice Award 2015 in the 5-10 years category. Her latest book, Bookasura – The Adventures of Bala and the Book-eating Monster won the Best Publication for Children award at Comic Con India 2015. Her picture book, Junior Kumbhakarna, won the RivoKids Hindustan Times Parents and Kids Choice Award 2014 for the best book by an Indian author for ages 0-5 years.

In an interview with Hippocampus, Arundhati reveals a few of her favourite children’s books and gives excellent tips on how schools can promote reading for joy.

  1. What inspires you to write for children?

Writing for the very young is a huge responsibility and extremely challenging, but it’s also deeply fulfilling. It’s what I love doing the most.

I think there’s a part of me that never really grew up, which is why I love children’s books – both reading and writing them. I get to relive the rollicking times and swashbuckling adventures I had as a kid; what can be more fun than that?

  1. Tell us about a book that you loved as a child and that you revisit even today

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Every time I read it, I find that it tells me more about people – both children and adults, their feelings, and how we deal with one another. Each time, I am uplifted.

  1. What are the three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy?

1) Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) is classroom time set aside on a daily or weekly basis for independent silent reading. Everyone reads, including the teacher! These twenty minutes are to be treated as sacred, and not sacrificed to complete lessons or prepare for exams. Students bring books from home or pick them from the library before DEAR time begins.

2) Read-aloud time designated in the timetable. The teacher shares the excitement, the emotion, the suspense, and the sheer fun of the story with the class, getting through an entire book (or two) during the course of the year.

3) A crowd-sourced class library of sorts (apart from a school library with a well-curated collection, of course). Each student brings one book from home and places it in the classroom bookshelf, where it remains for the rest of the term, to be read and enjoyed by anyone in class.

  1. Name three contemporary authors you feel children should be exposed to

I’m going to pick authors who have written for all reading levels – Neil Gaiman, Kate DiCamillo, Louis Sachar, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.

  1. Which are 5 books which every school library should own?

The Duckbill hOle books – a chapter book series with delightful stories and hilarious illustrations, for kids just graduating from being read to, to reading by themselves.

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami – an utterly charming book about a young girl on a mission to save a pavement library.

Unprincess by Manjula Padmanabhan – Three bold stories about feisty “unprincesses”. My favourite is the one about Urmila whose looks are so revolting that nurses faint and flowers wilt. I wish it had written a few decades ago; I might have seen myself as a rather cool Agent of Mass Horrification instead of plain ugly!

Harsha Vardhana by Devika Rangachari – Makes history come alive.

Dear Mrs. Naidu by Mathangi Subramanian – An inspirational story of twelve-year-old Sarojini, a student at a government school, who takes on the system. Told through the letters she writes to her namesake, the famous freedom fighter and poetess, the situations in the book introduce a young reader to what the world may look like through the eyes of the less privileged.

  1. If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?

Max or Maddy, the cool sleuths from Alexander McCall Smith’s mystery series for young readers. Their parents, ex-detectives mind you, own an ice cream parlour and make ice cream in thirty-seven different flavours!

5 Marvellous Books on Monsoon

At Hippocampus we believe that reading books indoors is the best way to enjoy the monsoon. Here are 5 books that are perfect for reading-aloud on rainy days.

Listen to the Rain  

Author: Bill Martin Jr. & John Archbamault | Illustrator: James Endicott

Listen to the Rain is an evocative picture book that describes the various moods and sounds of the rain. The soft illustrations and rhythmic words merge together in a thoroughly delightful manner which is certain to leave any reader spell-bound.


Author: Vaishali Shroff | Illustrator: Ruchi Mhasane

If you like the familiar scenes of a rainy day, you will love this book. When it pours rain, little Anju looks outside her window and sees black clouds that crowded the sky and streets dotted with colourful umbrellas. The story unfolds by describing what Anju observes and the illustrations take you through the wet streets of India on a rainy day. The dreamy watercolour illustrations and scenes where she makes patterns on her window leave you feeling nostalgic.

Come On, Rain!

Author: Karen Hesse | Illustrator: Jon J Muth

“Come on, rain!” are the desperate words of Tess, as she squints towards sky with hope. This splendid book depicts the sweltering heat and difficulty of life without rain in an urban society. The illustrations match the words brilliantly, absorbing you into each page. As the downpour approaches, Tess and her friends come together and celebrate the rain by dancing on the streets.

Peacocks and Pakodas!

Author: Mala Kumar & Manisha Chaudhry | Illustrator: Priya Kuriyan

Badaboom! Meenu hears the roll of thunder and knows that monsoon is here after a long hot summer. Listening to the melodious Kajari, watching how rain water is conserved in drums, the smell of moist soil and Amma’s pakodas makes Meenu realize that she loves every bit about monsoon. Peacocks and Pakodas is a delightful book with bright colourful illustrations.

Mushroom in the Rain

Author: Mirra Ginsburg | Illustrator: Joyce Aruego & Ariana Dewey

Caught in the rain, an ant takes shelter under a tiny mushroom. But soon he finds many others with the same idea trying to find their way into the tiny space, and surprisingly enough, they all fit in! When the sun finally comes out, the ant discovers a magical secret! The illustrations hilariously capture the various stages through which each new visitor is force-fitted into the tiny space.  A well-paced, wonderful book for an interactive rainy day read-aloud session.

My Vibrant Library – Simple tips to make your library a fun and interesting space.


Book art is made from carefully folding the pages of recycled books to create various designs. You can create almost anything with a little effort – from hearts to houses, words, symbols and objects. This is an absolutely fun thing to do – an amazing way to reuse old books and give them another purpose. You can create as many as you like and decorate your library by placing them at interesting spots.


Celebrate reading by embellishing your library with paper garlands or book buntings! Take old damaged comic books that are no longer used and cut them into even triangles. Take a length of twine and tie a loop on one end. Fold the top edge of a triangle over the twine, and use tape to stick it down. Repeat taping on the same side as you go along. Leave some space between the triangles so that you can adjust them. Once you’ve run out of pages, tie your length of twine off with another loop and suspend them around your school library.


Nothing tickles the curiouscity of children quite like that of a fun visual. Take old A3 posters, turn them over, grab your art material and give your creativity a go. Use colourful pens to write quotes that encourage reading. You can also write some fun facts and draw basic images to go with it. Children typically learn from quotes and enjoy reading fun facts.


Ensure that your bulletin board has material that get children to interact. Create a long scroll using paper and attach it to your bulletin board. You can then ask children to write down the name of the book(s) in the library that they are thankful for.  You can alternately create a ‘wishing tree’ – All you have to do is cut out brown chart paper to look like the trunk of a tree and attach it to a wall in your library. Later, cut out many colourful chart papers to look like leaves. Hand out the leaves to the children and ask them to write a title of a book that they wish the library had. Finally, stick the leaves around the trunk of the wishing tree.

Laughter Ever After with Jane De Suza

Jane De Suza is the author of the recently-released book – SuperZero, a laugh-out-loud book for children. Other children’s books that Jane has written include Party in the Sky, The Big Little Want and the Han Series. She has also written a best-selling humour novel – The Spy who lost her Head. In an interview with Hippocampus, Jane shares interesting anecdotes of her childhood, and tells us about what inspired her to start writing humourous novels for children. Jane writes for magazines across the world including National Geographic and also writes a parenting column in Good Housekeeping.

  1. What inspires you to write for children?

‘I want a fun book for my kid,’ I told the bookstore guy. ‘About princesses?’ he asked. ‘No – funny.’ ‘We have books about vampires, wizards, morals, mythology, battles with greek gods?’ ‘FUNNEEEY,’ I said. ‘Take a quiz book,’ he suggested. ‘Makes your kid smarter.’

I don’t want kids smarter. They’ve got enough tests and mental maths and music classes. I want them to have fun. So I wrote SuperZero. I love it when kids reading the book thump the floor, roll around and laugh hysterically. There’s nothing happier-sounding than a child’s laugh.

  1. Tell us about a book that you loved as a child and that you revisit even today

When I discovered the William series by Richmal Crompton in my father’s bookshelf, I tumbled into love. William was the original rebel, the inventor, the leader of the gang into all sorts of trouble and so, so funny. Years later, one of the first things that convinced me that my husband was the right guy for me was that he loved William too. We’ve now started a collection of the original print   William series, tattered and hunted out from second hand book stores all over.

  1. What are the three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy?

Schools should really get books out of neatly stacked libraries. Books should be living things – friends. Demystify them – get authors in to interact with kids as much as possible. Get children to act out characters from books. Ask children to take a book and change the story midway, into their own. Or else to take a character from a book and give him or her a new adventure – that sort of thing.

  1. Name three contemporary authors which you feel children should be exposed to

Only 3? Asha Nehemiah’s world of creativity, yet so set in local flavour.  Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid – though excluded from most ‘serious’ book lists, I think this is a total creative genre-breaker and again – funny. Anything by Dr Seuss and Ruskin Bond.

  1. Which are 5 books which every school library should own?

I’m going to take this chance to push for books in libraries that encourage children to be with animals, love them, understand them, fight the systems that persecute them.  I grew up with some of these books, so here goes:

– Call of the Wild – Jack London,  Black Beauty  – Anna Sewell,  Born Free – Joy Adamson,  Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling and the current fantabulous How to Train your Dragon series.

  1. If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?

As a kid, I spent many happy hours imagining myself to be Thumbelina, so tiny that I could slip through keyholes, hide in a book and sleep in a walnut. Interesting –the possibilities of growing smaller, rather than growing up, right?