A Knock at the Door
By Helen Yeomans
Illustrations by Matteo Mazzacurati
This outstanding children’s book by Helen Yeomans is the most unique collection of short short stories that I have ever read. All of the characters are letters which form words. Each letter speaks, has a distinctive personality, forms particular words and lives . . . well, mostly happily together. These letters of the alphabet, like children, get into trouble and sometimes have difficulty getting along.
There are strict rules in the world of word formation and the overseer of letters takes no nonsense from young letters who are lazy or likely to get into mischief. The formation of letters which make a word is an important job. When forming new words or made up words, letters must present them to The Counsel of Letters, made up of a 26 letter panel where the word is approved or denied.
Author Yeomans writes a lively, funny book which will make learning letters and turning them into proper words fun for children. It’s a great read aloud book because adults and teachers will laugh out loud at the antics and wry humor—then explain it to the younger children who may have missed the joke. Children learning to read alone will find this entertaining as it teaches them proper spelling and pronunciation of words; particularly when the letters themselves are in an ornery mood.
This often quirky, yet wise community of letter characters complete, with illustrations, should be required reading in pre-school and the lower grades. The author doesn’t talk down to the children and sparks their curiosity toward new words they may not know. Making learning an enjoyable experience both enhances the child’s ability and desire to learn the amazing letters which go into the making of the words used to communicate.
As an adult, I loved this book, much in the way adults love Dr. Seuss, and children will feel the same way. The characterization of all 26 letters is so life-like that this is a book children will want to read again and again. The illustrations are adorable but might further enhance the book if there were more of them. Need a smile? Read this book to a child you know. You’ll both be glad you did.