Picture Book Review – “P is for Pterodactyl”

P is for Pterodactyl picture book cover.

P is for Pterodactyl
Author: Raj Haldar & Chris Carpenter
Illustrator: Maria Tina Beddia
Publisher: Sourcebook Jabberwocky (2018)
Age Range: 4-8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Amazon Synopsis:
P is for Pterodactyl. This whimsical, funky book from Raj Haldar (aka rapper Lushlife) turns the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, poking fun at the most mischievous words in the English language and demonstrating how to pronounce them. Fun and informative for word nerds of all ages!

My Review: Alphabet books from “back in the day.”

I remember writing an alphabet book in the first grade.  My favorite teacher, Ms. Cinella, hosted an after-school activities class for those interested in writing their own book. I can picture it clearly in my mind.  Bound with staples and cardboard, decorated with our own handiwork, to us first-graders, these were products of beauty.  My book was an alphabet book, back when the concept was simple – name things beginning with each letter.  And so it goes: A is for Apple, B is for Banana, C is for Cat, D is for Dog, etc.

While the basic A is for Apple books are still in demand for toddlers, these days you have to tell a story along the way. And there are some amazing alphabet book “stories” out there. 

Love the concept

I fell in love with the concept of this book as soon as I saw it and purchased it immediately! The subtitles hooked it for me: “The WORST Alphabet Book Ever.  All the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounce.” Seriously, I first thought, “Why hasn’t someone come up with this sooner?” Followed immediately by my second thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

I mean, it’s a number one bestseller by a celebrity (rap star), and rappers are generally good with words and rhyme and clever text so I feel like this book will do well because of WHO wrote it. 

But, does it hold up to the hype?

As to the actual story, it feels a bit flat to me and I have to admit I am a bit disappointed. Now, don’t get me wrong – parts of it are “spot-on,” as shown in the title, “P is for Pterodactyl.” A couple of other good examples include “T is for Tsunami,” and “K is for Knight.”

Then there are the letters that inevitably do not cooperate, and the author really has to get creative.  Take the letter F for example – he states, “F is not for photo, phlegm, phooey or phone.” This is confusing for readers – are we talking about the letter F or the letter P? There are a few other instances like this, and it put me off as a reader.

An alphabet book for kids or adults?

The recommended age group in Amazon is 4-8 years old but I would recommend ages 8 and up.  I really don’t think the younger crowd is going to identify with words the concept that some words don’t sound like they are spelled.

About the Author

Raj Haldar is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestselling picture book, ‘P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever.’ But, for close to a decade, the Philadelphia based rapper, producer, and multi-instrumentalist has been better known for his critically-praised music under the moniker Lushlife.

His work has been featured by The Washington Post, Interview Magazine, VICE, Pitchfork, Village Voice, Mental Floss, BBC, SPIN and more.

Review Copy

I purchased this book from Amazon.com.