Hey, folks!

Here’s a challenge for you:

Write an alphabet book. Use just one or two words per page, starting with an A-word on the first page and proceeding through the alphabet till the final Z-word on the last.


Make it appealing to kids just learning their alphabet, full of words they’re likely to use.


Make sure it’s a page-turner, full of action, conflict, and slapstick humor.


And be sure to end on a satisfying note.


Well, shoot. Looks like Mike Twohy’s already done all this with OOPS POUNCE QUICK RUN! (Balzer & Bray, 2016).



I marvel at books like this one, which seem so simple at first glance, but reveal their brilliance over multiple readings. It’s also well-structured around an organizing idea (the alphabet), and just right for its intended audience. In fact, it was a 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (that’s the one that recognizes distinguished books for beginning readers).

Mike Twohy is a longtime New Yorker cartoonist, so the guy knows how to tell visual stories in a compact space. As a writer, the book challenges me to think about those kids just beginning to read on their own, to imagine my story visually, and it reminds me of the power of brevity, action and humor (especially of the slapstick variety).

Now QUICK! RUN to the library and POUNCE on it!


Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. How clever and fun! Good for Mr. Twohy! (and congratulations on the Theodore Seuss Geisel honor).

  2. That’s awesome! So simple and yet I’m sure it wasn’t! THanks for sharing, Linda.

  3. Patricia Nozell

    What a wonderful mentor text for low-word count concept books!

  4. I love it when a simple idea is executed well. So much to learn from this one.

  5. I’m going to run and pounce on this book once I find it!

  6. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s going on my list right now. CLEVER!!!

  7. Well, that’s such an ingenious and unique ABC book. I’m up to the challenge as I attempt to draft a pb manuscript using this format. I look forward to reading this alphabet caper book.

  8. Low word count, humorous illustrations and educational – a great mentor text for writing for early readers!

  9. I, too, loved this book. Just looking at the title brings a smile.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Great post! 🙂

    Janee Trasler did a great alphabet book that tells a story in much the same way.

    It’s called CAVEMAN: A B.C. STORY.

  11. Just wonderful. Inspiring masterclass thankyou

  12. I love it!

  13. Simple…clever…and delightful!

  14. I. Just. Keep. Loving. Mike.

  15. Absolutely adorable!

  16. This looks extremely clever and hard to pull off — can’t wait to check it out! Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  17. Wow, looks neat. And what a good writing idea to use 1 word per letter and tell a complete story! Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  18. This book looks wonderful. I can’t wait to read it. (I’m sure my grandson will love it too!)

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