Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses, by Vladimir Radunsky and Chris Raschka; The New York Review Children’s Collection, $19.95, 80 pages, ages 5 and up.
Vladimir Radunsky spent years rummaging through bookstalls and flea markets around the world in search of black and white photographs from the turn of the last century. He found that many of the pictures had no identification, and had been pitched in trash bins. This book is his way of breathing life back into these portraits byimagining in verse the lives these cherubs led, suspended in time, dressed in their best clothes and posed against sumptuous backgrounds. Radunsky curated twenty-six images of children from his collection and asked fellow author (and Caldecott Medal winner) Chris Raschka to compose alliterative poems exploring the subjects’ possible personalities. These little verses create a fantasy world in this photo album-as-alphabet book. While it’s unlikely that children will actually learn their ABCs, images of boys in girls in outfits of long ago will likely inspire conversations about life in another era.