The Alphabet Symphony (book cover)

The Alphabet Symphony
An ABC Book

Hardcover: In Print

Bruce's Second Book
1977 - Greenwillow Books
ISBN 0-688-80112-9
1982 - Apple Island Books
ISBN 0-934313-00-8
Available from
Apple Island Books

"All of this is quite artful and clever, the photography excellent."

The New York Times Book Review, October 23, 1977

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Personal Note

I've always been surprised that nobody has ever noticed the printer's mistake. The photo of one letter was flopped backwards and then rotated upside down. Obviously the error doesn't jump out at you but once it's pointed out you easily see that one doesn't stand upside-down to play the cello. Hmm. I never said which letter, did I? Maybe Brett's showing me which letter. Maybe there's a clue in the photo to the right, just a click away.

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If you look carefully, there are letters all around. You may already know the alphabet, but no one is too old to think and discover and invent. And that is what seeing imaginatively is all about! Bruce McMillan focused his photographer's eye on the players and instruments of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The result was this brilliant and original alphabet book. But there are still letters and alphabets left to discover. Wherever you are - wherever you go - let your imagination see!

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Horn Book Magazine
December 1977

"For readers mature enough to
appreciate visual analogies.

Bruce McMillan, Photographer
The Alphabet Symphony: An ABC Book
CIP 32 pp. 8 1/8" x 10 1/8"
Greenwillow 1977 ISBN 0-688-80112-9 $5.95
ISBN 0-688-84112-0 $5.49

ABC books offer limitless possibilities for variations on a theme. A photographer has painstakingly selected - and shot from unusual angles - specific details of orchestral accouterments which parallel in shape the capital letters of the alphabet. For example, S is matched with the resonance hole of a cello, N to the configuration of three violin bows in action, and U to a tuning fork. Confusion cannot occur since there is no suggestion that the name of the instrument or object corresponds to the letter illustrated; only in two summary pages at the end of the book are the items identified in miniature reproductions of the pictures. Decidedly not for young children who are unacquainted with their ABC's, the book is rather for readers mature enough to appreciate visual analogies. While the photographer cannot equal Tana Hoban in imagination or ingenuity, his work does add to a growing collection of books which present a kind of basic training in observation. E.L.H.

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in The Horn Book Magazine and appears here with permission.

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