Cover of Alphabestiary by Jane Yolen


Illustrated by Allan Eitzen
Boyds Mill/Word Song 1995
ISBN# 1-56397-222-0 hardcover

A labor of love. What fun for someone who loves poetry to get to spend six months simply reading poetry in order to find the poems for an alphabet of animal rhymes. I needed poems that were not only wonderful in themselves–but easy enough for young readers. Of course there were a few letters that were somewhat “weak” on poetry. So I got friends–like Anna Kirwan and Ann Turner and Christine Crow (and my son Adam Stemple)–to fill in some spots. And I filled in a few myself. Allan’s work has such verve.

Awards: The book was on the 1996 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List and the Texas Best of the Best list for 1996.

What reviewers have said:

  • “Eitzen’s (Cherry Tree) illustrations, somewhat crowded on these spreads, combine gouache, watercolor and cut paper; their bright cartoon animals ornament rather than respond to the substance of the poems. Yolen’s own inventive poems-about the xyleborus that “bores its way right through a tree” and the iguana who “slither[s]/ Yon and hither”-dot this cheerful anthology.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “Children will master the alphabet while they meet mules, mosquitoes, mice and more amazing animals in Jane Yolen’s Alphabestiary, an A-to-Z assortment of 70 poems. Allan Eitzen’s dazzling illustrations accompany the poetry of Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rosseti, Ogden Nash, and many others.” — Children’s Literature
  • “From the lethargic anteater to the striped zebra, this charming collection of poems looks at the amazing world of animals. Children will enjoy reading the poetic words of Robert Louis Stevenson, Lilian Moore, Jack Prelutsky, John Ciardi, and many other classic and modern authors.” — Children’s Literature
  • “An exuberant, alphabetically arranged collection of poems about creatures large and small, exotic and common. … Nowhere else will you find verses about an Irish wolf-hound, a nightjar, a quetzal, a xyleborus, a Xiphias Gladius, a zebu, a zemmi, a bat, a lizard, a mosquito, and a rabbit all in one source. The gouache, watercolor, and cut-paper collage illustrations reflect earth tones and are not as vibrant as the words. Even if you have Dick King-Smith’s Alphabeasts (Macmillan, 1992) or Charles Sullivan’s Alphabet Animals (Rizzoli, 1991), Alphabestiary makes a totally different, energetic statement.” — School Library Journal
  • “Enough cannot be written in praise of this children’s (and/or adult’s?) poetry collection. . . .Even with the price–buy two! Highly recommended.”–Tucson Unified School District
  • “(W)ith its playful illustrations and odes to creatures great and small, (this) is a beautiful book, befitting any child 2 to 92.”–Copley News Service
  • “This magical alphabetically arranged collection of 72 poems about some of the world’s most fascinating creatures will delight even the youngest listeners and readers.”–Catholic Observer
  • “A more charming and comprehensive selection of animal poems probably does not exist.”–Sunday Exponent-Telegram, Clarksburgh WVa.
  • “This carefully crafted collection deserves shelf space next to Mother Goose for its delightful variety of verse and appealing art.”–Chicago Parent

Out of print