P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (2024)

Cecily

1,205 reviews4,649 followers

January 7, 2020

At first glance, this looks like a book for pre-schoolers, so I’m not sure how my nearly nine-year old niece will react when she unwraps it. I’m confident she’ll find it funny - but there’s also a book token/voucher inside. UPDATE: She was initially wary, then intrigued, but her 11.5-year old sister and their father were more taken by it.

This book is really for those who are good enough readers to relish the illogicalities of English spellings, rather than be oblivious to or frustrated by them.

There is humour in the pictures and nonsensical scenes, but also from the word choices. Some pages subvert the usual “[letter] is for [word]” with [letter] is NOT for [word].

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (2)
Image: U is not for You or Ewe

It includes words that are not obvious subjects for children’s books (“quinoa”), as well as more usual ones (“knight” and “pteranodon ”), and words that are not really words at all (Roman numerals).

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (3)
Image: V is for Five

The authors had plenty to choose from. English has a long history of incorporating and adapting words from languages including Norse, Greek, Latin, French, German, and Hindi.

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (4)
Image: Bdellium is the only word dumb enough to start with a silent B.

That’s why our spelling is often inconsistent and counter-intuitive. Take a look at the length of the Wikipedia page for just one, not very helpful, rule: I before E except after C or Google for mugs and t-shirts listing exceptions in a single quirky sentence.

Rhymes can be misleading too, hence knowing how to spell “wee” is no help spelling “ouija”:

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (5)
Image: O is for Ouja - but not for Wee, which sounds the same.

And just in case context isn’t enough, the glossary defines the words, with pronunciation guides.

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (6)
Image: Glossary

Pronunciation note: It uses US pronunciation. For most of the words, that's close enough for Brits. The notable exception is “herbalism” starting with an “er” sound, which is not the case, in most parts of the UK (other than co*ckney and some London accents that often drop initial aitches).

    childrens humour language-related

Jane

385 reviews615 followers

November 14, 2018

P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever truly is the worst alphabet book ever. ;-)

Each page in this cute little volume displays a letter of the alphabet and highlights ways in which the letter does not seem to follow the rules. Sometimes this means highlighting its use as a silent letter...

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...and other times it means showing how that letter is not actually used where you might expect it to be.

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (9)

I mostly prefer the pages that deal with silent letters -- they are easier to follow and I loved that the sentences on the page highlight other ways the silent version of the letter is used. Some of the "nope this letter doesn't go where you think it goes" pages are a bit convoluted for my taste and tend to not have as interesting or prolific letter usage in the sentences.

Overall, though, I think this book will be enjoyed by those who love silliness, learning about words, and combining the two into one activity (so most dads should enjoy this one :p). 4 solid stars for this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for providing me with a DRC of this book.

    1netgalley non-kindle-kindle picture-books

Lisa Vegan

2,849 reviews1,287 followers

December 14, 2018

Recommended only for independent school aged readers, definitely not preschoolers. This book is not much fun as a read aloud unless kids SEE the pages and at least know their alphabet/phonics and preferably have the vocabulary to know the meanings of many of the words, and there is some advanced vocabulary/esoteric words than only older kids or even adults will know. Particularly recommended for children and adults puzzled and/or amused by the vagaries of the written English language. Most of the pages show that there is some method in the madness. There was a slight bit of “cheating” with a couple of the letters but that’s okay. There is a glossary at the end and this adult actually needed it, for the words that start with B and with J. So there is no story here. But it’s a fun book and an educational book, though the premise is better than the final result. I’d expected to find it hilarious, but I didn’t really find it that amusing, except for the title. However, it was fun to read and I think some older kids will get a kick out of it.

    childrens fiction non-fiction

Dave Schaafsma

Author6 books31.8k followers

December 27, 2022

A book for older kids and language nerds everywhere, focusing mainly on the English language but not exclusively. What sense do these spellings make??!! But as Manybooks wrote, there really were reasons for these spellings, which the authors don't touch on:

G is for Gnocchi
H is for Heir
K is for Knight
M is fo Mnemonic
O is for Ouija
U is not for You

I'm not a particular fan of the writing, nor the artwork, but it is still pretty fun.

    language picturebooks-informational

Margaux

1,515 reviews29 followers

November 29, 2018

Perfect for the girl with the silent "x" at the end of her name.

    children-s contemporary humor

Manybooks

3,406 reviews104 followers

January 16, 2019

Now generally and from a presented text proper point of view, I have truly found Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter's P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever both fun and lyrically, humorously engaging, with many included onomatopoeia, tongue twisters and other word-based joys and rhetorical delights (although indeed this is claimed with the necessary caveat that P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever is most definitely and in my humble opinion much too advanced and too potentially, too easily confusing for young children first learning their letters and words and therefore more a book conceptualised for older children, and actually for anyone interested in the many and diverse vagrancies and conundrums of English language spelling and pronunciation).

However and my general basic enjoyment of both the concept and the presented 26 letter sections of

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever quite notwithstanding, I for one also have to admit that I have found this book rather annoyingly and frustratingly incomplete on a specifically language and linguistic level. For considering that many of the reasons why especially English has so many spelling and pronunciation scenarios that make the language often so potentially befuddling and difficult to write and in particular to pronounce are based on particular linguistic and language history (as well as etymological) explanations, frankly, I do find it more than a trifle problematic, sad and actually if truth be told a very serious (academic and informative) shortcoming and lack that there is basically almost NO supplemental information whatsoever provided as to the specific causes of why the English language has so many spelling and pronunciation quandaries (for sorry, but while the glossary at the back of P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever is of course appreciated and most likely also rather necessary, there also in my humble opinion absolutely should be an included section on basic linguistics and why English in particular has so many hom*onyms and other spelling scenarios that make especially the pronunciation of the language often so confusing and problematic, as well as of course also a section on suggested books for further reading and study, both tomes geared towards children/young adults and also ones more suitable and accessible for adults and perhaps even for those of us with a bit of background in linguistics and language history).

Combined with the fact that while Maria Tina Beddia's illustrations (although bright and imaginative) are also generally much too garishly hued and cartoon-like for my aesthetic tastes, I can and will only consider two stars maximum for

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (and while I do and would in fact still recommend it, I can honestly say that if you like and require your alphabet books, or rather if you like and require your more advanced alphabet books to also include supplemental details and bibliographical information, then P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever might not really be right for you).

    alphabet-counting-books book-reviews childrens-poetry

booklady

2,465 reviews64 followers

Read

September 10, 2022

This title caught my eye as I am teaching the alphabet to my grandson and will soon be doing so for my granddaughter as well.

The subversive side of me (mostly well-restrained) just had to see what was in this book. Was it educational in an opposite sort of way? Was it tongue-in-cheek humorous? Or was it some composite thereof?

Well, it is an alphabet book as the title claims, i.e., it has a page dedicated to each letter of the alphabet which gives examples of words for that letter, for the most part, where the letter is silent. The one exception being "V". The Roman number V is not a word, and it does not begin with the silent letter "V". I guess that was the best they could come up with for poor "V".

Then there are also those letters in the negative, such as "U" is not for You and "Y" is not for Why. So, what are "U" and "Y" for? I guess that is why this is the worst alphabet book; you have to accept those disappointments.

In the final analysis, it seems a far cry from the worst alphabet book I can imagine. For older children, it is a fun book to read and a great way to increase vocabulary. An enjoyable read for adults as well, something to share with young people, reading proficiently at 5th grade or above. (My best educated guess from remembering my own children.)

    2022 all-ages books-on-books

Carla

6,623 reviews152 followers

October 4, 2018

My grandchildren love alphabet books, and dinosaurs, so I though this would be right up their alley. Well there was only one dinosaur, but this was an incredibly silly book and my grandson loved it. It poked fun at the way the English language does not follow rules, especially all the silent letters in the language. It's written quite sarcastically and would probably be appreciated by older children who struggle with pronunciations and spelling as well as younger children who will just enjoy the illustrations and fun text. The art is fun to look at and I enjoyed seeing a book that has fun with the ridiculousness of the English language. I would not recommend this book to early readers as it would probably frustrate them very much. A great addition to a school library. The publisher, SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions are my own.

    children netgalley non-fiction

Rod Brown

6,223 reviews231 followers

May 1, 2023

A clever book that mocks other alphabet books for children by using silent letters, hom*ophones, and alternate letter sounds. It's a little awkward in writing and art, and not all letters work as well as others with a lot of words imported from other languages carrying a little too much of the load, but the concept is so winning it's easy to set all that aside.

Bottom line: The English language sucks! But we love it!

Chance Lee

1,359 reviews143 followers

October 23, 2018

This book about English being confusing and inconsistent is, itself, confusing and inconsistent. "S is for Seas" because "seas" sounds like the letter C, I guess, but what other sound is "s" supposed to make in a book about words "nearly impossible to pronounce"? The page also has the word "Arkansas," which fits the theme, but to make the page about the sea is a weird choice.

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Phrodrick

969 reviews52 followers

May 2, 2020

P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever - by Chris Carpenter and Maria Beddia was almost purpose built for me. Long before George Carlin asked about how the “w” in one got tangled into the otherwise “w” less two, or for that matter why it takes so many times to get to, too, two right? I was not getting the hang of spelling. “I: be fore "e" except after "c" is arbitrary enough if you are going to pretend away words like Chief, Believe and Field and there are others. I also have a clear memory of in class spelling bee when a friend of mine nailed Pneumonia while I was fortunately cautious enough to not call Bull, even as I was thinking it. (David got it right by realizing teacher was reading from a dictionary and was still in the letter “P” )

With The Worst Alphabet Book Ever we get a comedic twist on the entire shelf of alphabet books. Ain’t nobody here but us words that fail to behave. Phonic teachers, eat your heart out. Sorry, phonetically that’s: eat your hart out.

I do like the occasional children’s book, but so much better are those with a hint of the naughty.
The down side is that on occasion the authors have some forced curtsy sentences to go with their examples. It is kind of a cheat to include foreign word. Transliteration is a matter of approximating sounds that may not exist in English. rather that spelling ‘exceptions” Is it properly Tsar? (I think so) but I am not gonna get crushed if someone prefers Csar. Do not get me stated on Hanukkah, Channuka and its variants.

Katy

2,025 reviews195 followers

March 2, 2019

Delightful.

Elizabeth

667 reviews58 followers

April 14, 2019

Really funny and smart! I love the self-awareness of the subtitle, “The Worst Alphabet Book Ever”: how wonderfully blunt! True to its name, it is indeed a terrible primer for a pre-reader, but it remains a delightful treat for older readers and even grownups. It walks a fine line between mocking and celebrating some of the English language’s quirks, and each page gives the reader something new to ponder. Wordplay, alliteration, and humorous illustrations add to the charm. A glossary in the back aids with meanings and pronunciation.

    humor language nonfiction

Audrey

1,171 reviews196 followers

August 6, 2019

A cute, short picture book, but it could have been better. Some letters are for things they are not. (N is not for Knot.) The text for each letter includes as many strangely spelled words as possible. My favorite was the ewe giving the eulogy.

    2019-re-reads-and-misc short-stories-comics-poetry-etc

Glenn Hammer

Author3 books1 follower

July 28, 2019

Proof why I have a hard time spelling.

Marianne

3,783 reviews274 followers

August 25, 2022

Far from being phonetic, the English language has many pronunciation anomalies. With charming and funny illustrations by Maria Beddia, Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter illustrate this with just a few of many possible examples, demonstrating that English is not the easiest of languages to learn. Readers in UK and Australia will note that some pronunciations are American, but this does not detract from the entertainment value of this clever book.

Moonkiszt

2,465 reviews286 followers

July 29, 2020

Featured in grandma reads session today. . .

Check this out! All those silent letters, and hard to explain to kindergartener words. . . .("But, why? Why even have it there?" "I don't know. . .they just are, Johnnie." "Well, I don't like it." "Mm.")

Still as you march along, it becomes more and more interesting, and kinda funny. Me and my guys - we were giggling by the time we were done with the book. And, I think this would be a good one to revisit from time to time. It will certainly give kids a hand-up when they run across these challenging words in reading or trivia games.

4 stars for all the weirdness.

    adults-authors-explaining-stuff grandma-reads-session kidlets-perfect-for

SaraKat

1,794 reviews33 followers

December 11, 2018

I thought this was a really cute idea, but the execution left something to be desired. The problem is that there aren't words for some of the letters and the authors had to reach a bit. Several foreign words were used (Djibouti comes to mind), but the author emphasizes that "English" is a funny language. Oui is used as an example of how an "O" at the beginning of the word in English usually has a "W" sound. ??? The art was cute. But I'm not really sure of the audience of this book. The words are wildly inappropriate for picture book readers, but the execution won't appeal too much to older readers.

    juvenile picture-book

Ashley Adams

1,152 reviews35 followers

January 6, 2019

P is for Pterodactyl might actually be one of the BEST alphabet books ever! It covers silent letters from aisle to gnat. It cheats a little by using Spanish, African, and Roman references, but it is super cute and informative!

    children favorites humor

Vintage

2,565 reviews563 followers

January 7, 2019

Incredibly clever alphabet book that is perfect for a teacher, that clever early reader, or the friend that is over and done with childhood classics.

It addresses the nuances of what a nightmare it is learning vocabulary rules only to find out that the rules don't apply.

    adventure charming classic

Molly

1,202 reviews53 followers

October 20, 2018

This is a *delightful* alphabet book that uses some unusual examples for its letters - but the illustrations are great and it also provides a great glossary in the back for kiddos (and adults) who want more context for the neat words they encounter inside.

    2018 children-s-books netgalley

Kathryn

4,557 reviews

August 9, 2021

A few (like the title letter) are really well done, but there's also quite a bit of "cheating" going on and several just didn't work for me at all. Overall, not as humorous or insightful as I'd hoped it would be.

    childrens-picture-books

Jenny

2,974 reviews33 followers

February 20, 2019

As a teacher for many years and of many second language learners, I enjoyed this alphabet book that humorously points out some of the inconsistencies or unusual pronunciations in the English language. A few of the choices were a bit odd, and I do wish they had included a bit more information (either in the glossary or in supplemental note). For example, notes about which languages some of the words came from (or even a mention that many of them do come originally from other languages) would have been beneficial. Yet I appreciated the humor of the book.

Note: This is definitely not a book for preschoolers. It's definitely for older children who can read.

    children-s-books humor picture-books

Joshua

Author2 books35 followers

April 5, 2019

This was a rather disappointing book, largely because it taught me that none of my childhood teachers had accurately prepared me for the crushing realities of the complexities of the letter p.

Erica Sonzogni

433 reviews1 follower

March 12, 2019

Have you ever read the WORST alphabet book ever? P is for Pterodactyl, The Worst Alphabet Book Ever is just that. This book is structured like a regular alphabet book, except each word includes silent letters. These words do not begin with the sound of the letter, which makes it horrible if readers are trying to learn letter sounds. The purpose of this book is not to learn letter sounds; however, but for readers to understand that language is complex and sometimes unpredictable. For example, one page says “D is for Dijbouti” and another says “R is not for Are”. Each includes information about the word that is mentioned. On the page that says “T is for Tsunami”, it explains that “The charging tsunami washed away all of Tchaikovsky’s tchotchkes”. There is a glossary on the last few pages explaining some of the words mentioned throughout the book.
P is for Pterodactyl allows for much discussion and conversation regarding the English language and words coming from other languages. Readers learn that the letters “oui” in French make the “wee” sound or that the letters “gn” in Italian make the “ny” sound. Readers learn about geography by understanding not only how to pronounce the place “Oaxaca” but finding out where it is located. The pictures are also comical and illustrate the absurd explanations surrounding each letter.

    picture-books

Courtney

1,234 reviews37 followers

January 15, 2022

Some examples are great, but I feel like the book misrepresents English. English will absorb some words from other languages, like most English speakers will understand some French words, eg beaucoup, oui, quiche, and even the acronym of RSVP. The book also uses quite a few Spanish words as examples, which I think are great, but often ‘j’ is more like ’y’, why wasn’t that discussed?

Ewe, eulogy, pterodactyl, psychic, you, and why were some great examples, and I liked that they covered the Greek root for pterodactyl in the glossary.

I love alphabet books, I also love pointing out inconsistencies of language (there’s an ‘l’ in half, so weird).

Also it’s my understanding that aeon is British and eon is American.

    humor little-books zzreviewed

Dianna

1,893 reviews43 followers

November 21, 2019

This book is fun for adults and older kids. My five-year-old didn't get most of it, and even my ten-year old, but my thirteen-year-old enjoyed it. I even learned a thing or two reading it. Luckily there's a glossary and pronunciation guide at the back.

Jenn Mattson

1,145 reviews39 followers

December 16, 2019

My lovely friend, Marjorie, gave this book to me for my birthday and it is so delightful! I love the "E is for Ewe" page best - there's always so much fun stuff happening on every page! For someone who loves words, this is just the best!

    humor kids picture-books

Amanda

840 reviews336 followers

May 31, 2020

This is such a clever book about how the English language can be confusing. I appreciated that the authors tried to fit as many outlaw words into each letter's description. I also loved the glossary at the end, which provides pronunciation guides and defines these sometimes obscure words.

    children-young-adult non-fiction

Jeremy

Author1 book309 followers

April 13, 2022

Awesome.

    5-stars children-ya dictionary-language
P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever (2024)
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