In Letter Lunch, British Columbia book designer and illustrator, Elisa Gutierrez, cleverly uses visual storytelling to show how letters appear all around us and can be mixed together to make words.
When a hungry boy and girl search the kitchen for something tasty to eat and find that except for a jar with the letter “C” the cupboards are bare, they decide to go shopping. They jot down a grocery list and embark on a letter scavenger hunt. Returning home with baskets full of consonants, the wordsmiths don chef’s hats and whip up a literary dish. They taste test a spoonful of “DLCS” and immediately realize something is missing. When vowels are added to spice things up, the result is delicious.
Gutierrez’s comic-strip panels give a cinematic feel to the adventure. In the backyard, the children pick “T”s dangling from a tree and gather “N”s from a garden. At the market, cut-paper collage letters in different typefaces, fonts and colours are piled high on shop counters. When the pair goes in search of the ever elusive letter “Z”, their quest even takes them to the top of a mountain. At the end of the book, the boy and girl are pictured at an easel, animatedly spelling and retelling their story.
This wordless narrative offers a clever twist on alphabet books. Letter recognition and language play are key ingredients in a recipe for promoting literacy, so serve up a heaping helping of Letter Lunch.
Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library. Her reviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, School Library Journal and CM: Canadian Review of Materials. When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.
Find out more here about how to make going to the grocery store an everyday literacy activity.