There’s a new book in the works here at the Avenue Press. It’s still a pile of unfolded pages and printed covers waiting to be bound, but it is most definitely in the works.
Called Ark-Bound Creatures, it is an alphabet book with text by Nyr Indictor and linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Rashley.
Alphabet books are an ancient tradition. They changed over time from being just an aid for young people learning to read to being collectable and loved by people of all ages. They’ve also become the passion and fascination of alphabetographers or abecedarians too. There’s also a new tradition of producing beautiful ABCs as illustrated books.
The earliest known printed English pictorial alphabet is John Hart’s A Methode, Or Comfortable Beginning For All Unlearned from 1570 which illustrated each letter with a woodcut of an object which began with that letter. After this, illustrations became a standard part of ABC books. With Ark-Bound Creatures, the Avenue Press is continuing a tradition which has a 444 year history.
ABC books produced to help children learn to read became so common that the nursery rhyme ‘A was an apple pie, B bit it, C cut it, D dealt it . . .’ was already well known in Charles II’s time. In 1742 ‘A was an archer’ first appeared in the ‘Tom Thumb Alphabet’ which has: ‘A was an Archer who shot at a frog, B was a Butcher and had a great dog, C was a Captain all covered with lace, D was a Drunkard and had a red face…’
Ark-Bound Creatures takes its inspiration from the Biblical tale of Noah and his family who count the animals into the Ark two by two. In Ark-Bound Creatures Nyr indictor has ‘A Couple of Cats’ and a ‘Duet of Dogs’ with delightful creative alliteration of the collective nouns throughout. Elizabeth Rashly’s linocuts capture each couple in vigorous linocuts with each pair tightly confined in a square composition.
“And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive.”
Genesis 6:19 – 20
I can’t wait to see what the binders do with my loose pages. Four weeks and counting!