The Imaginary Alphabet cover

By Sylvie Daigneault

The Imaginary Alphabet

Step inside the deliciously detailed pages of Sylvie Daigneault’s The Imaginary Alphabet. You never know what you might discover!

Agile alligators attempting an arabesque are just the beginning of this alphabetical adventure. Keep your eyes sharp and you might just spot the accordion, apple trees, and acorns hiding in the art. When you’ve read about the sleepy sloths swinging by the sea, stick around to spy the sailboat, snorkel, and sandals too.

In The Imaginary Alphabet, whimsical art brings the alphabet to life. Keen-eyed readers and listeners of all ages will enjoy finding everything there is to discover in each fantastical scene. Do you think you found it all? The book ends with a long list of every hidden detail.

Bookended by endpapers adorned with each jewellike illustrated letter, The Imaginary Alphabet is a mesmerizing book for word-lovers and art and animal enthusiasts everywhere.

Available In


Ages 5-10
ISBN: 978-1-77278-299-8
List Price: $26.95 CAD / $22.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 9.00 x 12.00 inches / 22.86 x 30.48cm
Pages: 64

Publication date: August 22, 2023

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 24

About this book


Praise for The Imaginary Alphabet

The New York Times 2023 Holiday Gift Guide Selection

Amazon Editor’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2023: Ages 6 to 8 

Amazon Editor’s “Best Books of September 2023 for Ages 6-8” Selection 

49th Shelf Fall 2023 “Most Anticipated Books for Young Readers” Selection

CBC Books “45 Picture Books to Check Out This Fall 2023” Selection

“A launching pad for elaborate flights of fancy….The artist’s intricate style and obsessive attention to detail — down to each individual hair of the animals’ slinky coats — is perfectly suited to the undertaking….Daigneault worked on this project for four years, an ever-expanding endeavor.”—The New York Times, Holiday Gift Guide

“Each letter of the alphabet in this vivid collection gets a sentence along with a humorous tableau full of details that are meant to coax the young reader to identify other objects with names that begin with the same letter. The illustration for “I” is particularly funny….There’s a prismatic intensity to Ms. Daigneault’s pictures that gives them a giddy feel.”—The Wall Street Journal, Closer Look Feature

“Dreamy colored pencil illustrations elevate this alphabet book to a work of art….depicted in meticulous detail within illustrations that will enchant adults and children alike.”—Foreword★ Starred Review

“A menagerie of merry and meticulously embellished animals mingles with witty wordsmithing and a whimsical search-and-find component to create an extravagant abecedary for an extensive audience in Sylvie Daigneault’s glorious, oversized picture book, The Imaginary Alphabet.…Its limited lexicon is sophisticated enough to satisfy linguists while still approachable for its intended audience of early and emerging readers. Animal lovers and I Spy series enthusiasts, especially those who appreciate elaborate detail in picture book art, should find special joy in perusing these pages. This ornate, alliterative, and interactive alphabetical adventure invites discovery as it delights admirers with its eccentric animal reveries.”—Shelf Awareness, Maximum Shelf

“The author/illustrator uses layers of colored pencil, digitally enhanced, to achieve her attentive artwork, which feels elegant and spacious while sustaining a fanciful tone with childish appeal. This is a dreamy addition to personal shelves and library collections.”Shelf Awareness

“[T]his sophisticated yet whimsical, alphabet book lures readers into a fantastical alliterative rabbit hole and is visually captivating, with the utmost attention to detail…..children will be drawn to the stunning illustrations and gamelike details of the book, but the most interest will likely be shown by grown-ups nostalgic for Graeme Base’s Animalia…. An enchanting, artistic interpretation of the alphabet, sure to delight readers from A to Z.”—School Library Journal

“Alliterative lines accompany elaborate colored pencil drawings in this fantastical animal abecedarian for fans of Graeme Base….Daigneault’s absorbing drawings incorporate vivid detail in depicting a wide range of subjects, and back matter guides readers seeking to identify objects tucked throughout.”—Publishers Weekly

“An alliterative animal abecedarium for avid apprentices. This whimsical yet elegant alphabet book unfolds in a series of 26 vignettes. Daigneault crafts scenes bursting with opportunity for further exploration….Fun with phonics.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Each letter is a splendid jewel…this iconic interpretation of letters will entice readers to find delight in the wonder and whimsy of words arrayed in alphabetical order.”—Booklist

The Imaginary Alphabet is a love letter to letters, playfulness, and wild imagination….The wordplay is delightful, but the illustrations themselves are the heart of the book, rendered in traditional, sumptuous detail….Daigneault’s joy in bringing the ‘glorious letters’ to life in The Imaginary Alphabet is palpable, lending energy and a necessary magic to its reading.”—Quill and Quire

“Every member of the alphabet receives meticulous attention in this lovely look and find book. Beautiful endpapers preview all the letters; each featured in a large, serif font and decorated with relevant items….A complete list of every pictured item closes out the book, which will encourage kids to flip back and forth through the pages.”—Youth Services Book Review

“A delightfully ornate, original representation of ABC fantasy that moves well beyond the familiar, inviting young learners, read-aloud parents, and educators to add whimsy into the effort to learn one’s alphabet…. the book creates a medley of impossible, fantastic, and visually alluring scenarios that adds delight to the alphabetical learning task in a very different manner.”—Midwest Book Review Children’s Bookwatch

“Stunning illustrations for every letter of the alphabet….overall, a wonderful addition to any library or household.”YA Books Central

“Young children will enjoy exploring the vivid and meticulously detailed coloured pencil illustrations for their own sake while older children will enjoy the challenge of trying to identify every hidden alliterative clue while expanding their vocabularies…Highly Recommended.”—CM Reviews

“The large picture book is beautifully executed with heavy pages and gorgeous art. Playful words invite readers to find more objects starting with each letter of the alphabet in the luscious illustrations….A fun new alphabet book for readers of all ages.”—The International Educator

“Beautiful illustrations and quirky alliteration guarantee this book will be well loved. It’s simple enough for the first stages of learning the alphabet, but complex enough to grow with a child with features like search & find.”—McLean & Eakin

“Clever wordplay and stunning illustrations make this a fabulous alphabet book.”—Parnassus Books

“The pictures are so pretty and colorful! The Imaginary Alphabet is a book that any kid, or as my mom said, adults, too, will enjoy because it’s easy to look through, and you might learn about something you didn’t know.”—Lydia, age 9, Kids’ BookBuzz

“The alliteration is a real treat and the artwork is stunning in this truly lovely new alphabet book….the joy to be found on each page is glorious.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Wander through the alphabet and see the exquisite illustrations for each alliteration….Teachers may include this book as part of an alphabet book collection and/or for alliteration examples.”—CLCD – Children’s Literature

“A phenomenally illustrated, gorgeously detailed work of art and text, The Imaginary Alphabet takes readers on a splendid adventure….a pure delight, with multiple layers of discovery—and opportunities for learning. The magical combination of Daigneault’s highly-detailed pencil illustrations and alliterative text create something truly standout here.”—Fab Book Reviews

“Young readers learning their alphabet will enjoy this exquisitely illustrated nature alphabet book….This is definitely one of the best alphabet books that I’ve seen.”—

“I love alphabet books. I love books that celebrate words. I love books with illustrations that enrich curiosity, wonder and imagination. This is a triple crown winner for me.”—Dr. Larry Recommends

“It’s a great idea for Christmas gift giving.”—Cabbagetown Neighbourhood Review

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