Los Angeles-based illustrator Patrick Hruby grew up in a log cabin within an Idaho forest. As a young boy he dreamt of running away to join the circus and become a trapeze artist. Eventually, however, he grew up to study math and physics before attending the renowned Art Center College of Design and pursuing a career as an illustrator. His interest in the geometry of nature is central to his work. Influenced by artists and designers such as Charley Harper, Paul Rand, and Mary Blair, Hruby has gone on to develop his own stunning and modern aesthetic. Hruby's clients include The New York Times Magazine, Playboy Jazz Festival, Varsity Pictures, and Brand New School. CMYK Magazine recently named him one of their Top 100 New Creatives.
My thoughts: ABC is for Circus has gorgeous artwork: the colors are luminous and the shapes are fluid. Hruby has an exquisite eye for detail. If the book was meant to be an art book, it would succeed wonderfully. Unfortunately, it's designed and marketed as a children's alphabet book.
The target age group is 1-3 year olds, but developmentally, the book fails to meet their needs. The pictures are overly busy, with too much detail. Some of the pictures are so stylized that the item intended to represent the letter is barely recognizable. Hruby does do a nice job of using both familiar and unfamiliar items but again, some are so stylized that the page fails to adequately represent the letter. The calliope especially is a mess, a gorgeous mess, but few children will make the connection between the item depicted and the real item if they have seen one. Moreover, it is standard, and developmentally beneficial, to include both the lowercase and uppercase form of each letter but Hruby uses only uppercase. All of the text is uppercase only.
Some children will undoubtedly enjoy the book, it is pleasing to look at but as an alphabet book, it fails.
NOTE: I have taught toddlers for 17 years and am a trained early childhood educator. This review is written from the perspective of an educator.
Publisher: AMMO Books
Release Date: 11/15/2010
This book was provided by NetGalley as an eARC.