The Skull Alphabet Book
Jerry Pallotta, author
Jerry Pallotta is an award-winning author of children's alphabet books and imaginative fiction. His combine interesting facts, detailed research, humor, and realistic illustrations that mesmerize children everywhere.
Read more about Jerry.
Ralph Masiello, illustrator
Ralph Masiello -- affectionately known as 'The Icky Bug Man' -- has illustrated several children's books including The Icky Bug Alphabet Book, The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book, and The Flag We Love. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Ralph has produced numerous works of fine art for galleries in addition to picture book illustrations and magazine covers for Omni and Tennis.
Read more about Ralph.
- IRA/CBC Children's Choices
- NYSRA Charlotte Award
Library Media Connection, starred review
Skulls of all shapes and sizes are contained in this newest addition to Jerry Pallotta's alphabet books. Each page contains a different animal head bone along with written and illustrated clues as to its owner. The clues are quite specific, and give the reader enough information to figure out the mystery. Answers are included on a two-page spread between the letters V and W. Additional scientific facts are included to add to the reader's knowledge about skulls. Another feature is hidden pictures of the presidents. However, this does not add anything special to the book and almost seems out of place. Overall, this is a very enjoyable book that would work well with young children who are interested in this topic.
Pallotta and Masiello, who created such popular alphabet books as The Icky Bug Alphabet Book, team up in their most sophisticated offering yet. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a beautiful, detailed oil painting of an animal's skull. In another twist, the name of the animal isn't revealed, but clues to its identity are given by highlighting various parts of the animal's skull, such as the teeth. Other clues are in the background- the skull for C lies beside a mousetrap. Also hidden in the pictures are small portraits of all the U.S. presidents, an amusing but sometimes distracting touch. Obviously this is not meant to help kids learn their ABCs, but some children will pore over it, learning a good deal of animal science and practicing their logic skills along the way.
Pallotta continues his series of scientifically oriented alphabets (The Jet Alphabet Book,etc.), with this skillfully illustrated volume focused on mammal skulls as the underlying structure. Each page shows one animal skull, with a paragraph of often humorous, always interesting text that offers information about skull anatomy, similarities and differences between mammals, and scientific "detective work." The mammal names are left for the reader to guess from clues in the text and illustrations, with some animals quite easy to guess, and others requiring much more effort from the organ encased in the human skull. Masiello's (The Flag We Love,etc.) striking paintings show each skull in a related environment (a fox skull in a henhouse, for example), with appropriate flora and fauna clues (ants crawling on an anteater skull, a bamboo stalk in the jaw of the panda bear's skull). On most pages there is another challenge for junior science detectives: skillfully hidden within the illustrations are one or more heads of the presidents (famous human skulls of a sort). Both the presidential names and the mammal names are included on an answer page, but it's left up to each reader's brainpower to match the names with the appropriate illustrations. This answer page, which also includes some nonmammal skulls, is oddly placed near the end of the alphabet rather than at the end of the volume. Touches of offbeat humor are found throughout, showing that for those who use their heads, science can be both educational and fun.
Page count: 32