City Alphabet

Written by Joanne Schwartz
Photographed by Matt Beam
Groundwood Books

The urban landscape is alive with words. You only have to look to find them — bold, brassy and obvious, or hidden, secret and mysterious. It’s this intriguing aspect of the city that Matt Beam has captured in his photographs – words spray-painted on walls, etched in concrete, carved into wood, stuck onto glass. He and Joanne Schwartz have collaborated to create a visually arresting alphabet book that documents the random occurrences of language all around us.

The result is an edgy catalogue of words from “art” to “zoo” that inspires us all to look more closely. This beautifully designed book is a small treasure for those who love to explore and engage with the city in which they live.

Reviews & Awards

“Stark, metallic and urban, these images may encourage children to think about alternate ways of seeing their surroundings.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Inspired by Matt Beam’s photographs of found texts—in spray-painted graffiti, street posters and on sewer grates—Schwartz’s minimalist text turns the city (and the alphabet) into found poetry, a semiotics of the street.”
– Toronto Star, Best Kids books based in the GTA, Amy Lavender Harris

 Book of the Year, Quill & Quire, 2009