Nonfiction Monday: Ox, House, Stick

Today is the first Nonfiction Monday for children's book bloggers.  Thanks to Anastasia Suen for designating a day to post about nonfiction, which I love and which doesn't get as much attention as it might.  I also like having some sort of structure to my posting (see Poetry Friday, which I missed last week).  And we read a lot of nonfiction at our house.  Right now, it's mostly about Ancient Rome.  Maybe I should just make this Ancient Roman Week at bookstogether!


I knew right away that my first Nonfiction Monday post would be about this book:  Ox, House, Stick:  The History of Our Alphabet by Don Robb; illustrated by Anne Smith (Charlesbridge, 2007).  [Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast had the same idea; see her review here.]  After all, our alphabet is Roman.

Ox, House, Stick was a Cybils nominee in the middle grade nonfiction category, and I would have been delighted if it had won (unfortunately, it's not a finalist).  The book, like the alphabet it describes, is a marvel of clarity, both visual--the illustrator, Anne Smith, is also a graphic artist--and informative.

It begins with a few pages about how people communicate; how written language developed from pictures and symbols to letters; and how those letters--our alphabet--spread "around the Mediterranean and through the centuries."  The rest of the book traces the origins of each letter or group of letters, interspersed with brief discussions of things like pronunciation, writing practices, and the invention of print.

All things that interest me, of course, but Leo was fascinated, too, as soon as he saw the ox head in the A (turn it upside down).  Thank you, Ancient Romans.

[And thanks again, Anastasia!  See more Nonfiction Monday posts listed here.]