Alphabet Mystery

by Audrey Wood, Illustrated By Bruce Wood

The Blue Sky Press
September 2003

Ages 3 – 5 . Grades PreK – Kindergarten

Library of Congress: 2002015296

Lexile measure: 600L

DRA: 16

Guided Reading: I



Engaging alphabet books are perennial bestsellers with unlimited demand. As in their previous collaboration, the Woods bring lower-case letters to life in a fun adventure. Little x has left, upset he's hardly used, and the other letters set out to find him. They find x playing the castle xylophone for the mysterious Master, capital M, who threatens to turn them into alphabet soup! Some quick thinking by Little x saves the day, and soon they are all on their way home--just in time to make Mom's birthday surprise: a cake with Little x all over. He's the only one who stands for kisses!
Audrey Wood

Audrey Wood has been writing award-winning children's books for more than 30 years. She often collaborates with her husband, Don Wood (IT'S DUFFY TIME; THE NAPPING HOUSE; KING BIDGOOD'S IN THE BATHTUB; MERRY CHRISTMAS, BIG HUNGRY BEAR), and she has created many bestsellers with their son, Bruce (ALPHABET MYSTERY; TEN LITTLE FISH). Audrey also illustrates books herself, including BLUE SKY (2012); SILLY SALLY; and A DOG NEEDS A BONE.
Bruce Wood

As a fifth-generation professional artist, I grew up with art all around me - in the studios of my parents and grandparents. I have always been very interested in art - it always seemed like a lot of fun.

One of the major advantages of growing up in a family of artists is the support you receive while learning your art form. It was also a unique experience. One year for my birthday, my parents made me a kid-sized cardboard castle out of refrigerator boxes in our backyard. It took me a few years to realize that not all my friends' parents were as creative as mine.

My initial interest in digital art came about at a young age. I started using Commodore 64's when I was eleven or twelve, and by age thirteen, I could do basic programming. Since then, I was always interested in how companies made computer games, and I think that's what ultimately led me to 3-D design.

In 1991, I attended the California Institute of the Arts, where I studied drama and advanced my interest in art created on the computer. Then, in 1993, I decided to enroll in the innovative San Francisco State Multimedia Center, where I pursued my long-standing interest in designing computer programs by studying animation and 3-D modeling.

This year I joined my family's creative team and illustrated my first book, The Christmas Adventure of Space Elf Sam. The book took me over two years to make, and it was a true family collaboration. My mom wrote the story and my dad, Don Wood, functioned as art director.

I love telling stories with my art, and picture books are just that. And of course, I love seeing the face of a young child, sitting on a bookstore floor, completely immersed in a book that I have created.

Aside from being a children's book illustrator, I also surf, snowboard, and sail, which means that I do get to see the sun sometimes.


  • Booklist
    (December 1, 2003; 0-439-44337-7)

    PreS-Gr. 2. Charley's letters from Alphabet Adventure (2001) set off on another escapade to find Little x, who was absent from the bedtime roll call. After Little t tattles that x took a pencil and flew away, the other letters hop on a pencil and take off to hunt for him. They find him in a castle, held captive by Giant M, a miserable monster. It seems Little x ran away because Charley never used him. But Little i knows a secret; tomorrow is Charley's mother's birthday, and Charley plans to use Little x. Monster M lets Little x go and allows each letter to choose a gift from his treasure room. As it turns out, Charley makes a cake, spells out "I Love You Mom," and uses Little x four times--for kisses, of course. Visual and verbal puns add to the fun of learning the alphabet, as do the vividly colored, digitally created illustrations that look like animated photographs.ids will love the "I Spy" aspect of matching letters to the gifts. --Julie Cummins Copyright 2003 Booklist

    School Library Journal
    (November 1, 2003; 0-439-44337-7)

    PreS-Gr 2-A story that invites participation and promotes letter recognition. When Little x disappears from Charley's Alphabet, the rest of the letters search for him, finding him in the castle of Master M. To their surprise, he does not want to be rescued, because he is useful there unlike at home, where Charley seldom uses him. When Master M awakes and threatens to use the letters in soup, Little x comes to the rescue and they all return home safely. There, Charley helps his dad decorate a birthday cake for his mother, and he uses Little x four times-because it is the only letter that stands for kisses. As in Alphabet Adventure (Scholastic, 2001), children will work on a skill necessary to begin reading as they enjoy the story and the bright, three-dimensional-looking digital illustrations filled with detail.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

    Publishers Weekly, starred
    (September 1, 2003; 0-439-44337-7)

    In this follow-up to Alphabet Adventure, mother and son Woods again unleash young Charley's set of three-dimensional, lower-case letters on what is best described as a why-dunit. When the alphabet takes nightly roll call, something isn't right. Little x is missing, and the other 25 letters set off to track him down. They find him at the spooky castle of the ominously green Giant M (for Master) and discover that their comrade has become a captive but willing court musician ("tap-dancing a lullaby on a xylophone"). "I ran away because Charley never uses me," Little x whines. But when Little i (whose missing dot was the subject of the previous volume) explains Charley's plans for Little x in his mother's birthday surprise, the errant letter agrees to escape-a plan that turns out to be unnecessary, since the hulking M is really a big softie. Once again, Bruce Wood's super-saturated, digital pictures bubble with a playfully surreal sense of scale, volume and detailing, as he first shows the alphabet quaking in the shadow of M, then the Giant M blubbering-"I have a mother too"-as teardrops splash on the letters' surface. Whether the abecadarian cast is sailing to and from the castle on their pencil rocket, or picking out a present for Charley's mother from Giant M's treasure room (Little f picks a fan, Little n picks a necklace, etc.), every spread is letter-perfect. Ages 3-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

    Kirkus Reviews August 1, 2003
    Twenty-five lowercase letters go in search of the runaway Little x in the sequel to Alphabet Adventure (2001) by this mother-and-son team. They find him in a castle inhabited by the menacing Master M. “ A little x is just a worthless letter back home.” Little x explains to his pals while dancing on a xylophone for the Mas



Jacketed Hardcover / Smyth

ISBN: 9780439443371

40pp. | 10-¾ x 9-⅝