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The War Between the Vowels and the Consonants


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About the Author

Priscilla Turner lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with her husband and two children.

A teacher and illustrator, Whitney Turner is Priscilla's younger brother and lives in Riverdale, New York.


Gr 2-4‘Narrated in a pseudo-serious tone, this is the fable of vowels and consonants who do not get along. There is terrible bickering and constant rivalry between them. Finally, war is declared and a conflagration occurs complete with dive-bombing T's, marching D's, spear-tossing J's, and paratrooper U's. Amid the fighting, a scrawling, formless chaos appears. Individually, the letters cannot halt the scratching threat of disaster, but when they cooperate and form actual words, the jumbled scrawl at last rolls out of town. This is a stilted attempt to teach about vowels and consonants through adult humor. Shaping actual letters into characters with spindly arms and legs and headless faces is too cute, and the story line falls flat. The colorful, busy watercolor illustrations do little to pick up the story. There is a condescending tone that children will see through, and they'll find little to enjoy in this obvious grammar lesson. This book is too clever for words, and an unnecessary offering.‘Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY

In the turn-of-the-century world pictured in this clever "history," upper-case Vowels don't let their lower-case kids play with little Consonants, and "Consonants [prefer] their own sounds: PRGHT! or SSSSP! Good, strong, snapping noises." Petty skirmishes escalate into a civil war: Vowels strategize ("We'll hit them with our screeching sounds"), Consonants attack an EIEIO formation ("Let those barnyard sounds try to stop the snarling GRRR's") and Y's become "a house divided." The Turners, a sister-and-brother team, trump standard alphabet books with this singular story, which concludes as the battling letters finally unite to fight a greater foe: a giant, illegible scribble. Priscilla Turner's inventive wordplay is an exercise in pronunciation, as when the Consonants send in "the freezing BR's." Whitney Turner's expressive Vowels and Consonants posture with stick arms and legs and the merest hints of facial features. They do battle in single-engine planes shaped like T's and E's, and at the happy ending, dancing pairs spell out "WE" and "US." What a bunch of characters! Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

"This artful fable tells of a time when letters coexisted as two mutually distrustful social groups...Children learning to read and write will enjoy the drama and humor evident in both the words and illustrations...A high-spirited picture book recommended for reading aloud." --Booklist

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