Alphabet City


“The 26 paintings by Stephen T. Johnson in Alphabet City must be the most beautiful set of images in a children’s book since Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express.… From the sawhorse that forms an “A” to the fire escape that makes a “Z,” every one of these richly colored full pages is a pleasure to behold.” 
- Paul Goldberger, The New York Times Book Review

“Celebrating the lines, curves and shapes of the letters, Johnson elevates the alphabet into art…A visual tour de force, Johnson’s ingenious alphabet book transcends the genre by demanding close inspection of not just letters, but the world.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The pictorial equivalents of “found poetry,” the twenty-six studies command attention and encourage readers to conduct similar explorations of their own.  All are imaginative, stimulating, and striking.  A book to savor again and again.”
-Horn Book Magazine, starred review

City by Numbers

“This companion to Johnson’s Caldecott Honor book Alphabet City once again inspires readers to closely examine an urban setting to find its hidden treasures. All ages.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this wordless companion to Alphabet City (1995), Johnson joins the likes of Tana Hoban, Arlene Alda, and Donald Crews in his attraction to the numbers, letters, shapes, and compositions found in the architecture and infrastructures of outdoor places and public spaces. Paintings show numerals 1-21 that are camouflaged by the urban cityscapes in which they exist. Discovering each number is an exercise in visual literacy: 4 is found in the lines of the Manhattan Bridge at sunset, 8 is formed by the round rims of adjoining trash bins, a 15 hides in the cracked mortar between bricks. Some numbers occur in the lines, curves, and curlicues of existing architecture, such as an iron gate, a fire escape, a cornice; others are created by negative space, for example, between stones on a snowy walkway or in the scraped surface and papery patches of a building’s peeling paint.  The subjects are similar to those found in the first book, although the colors, this time, are wintry and more somber. Children will relish the game of locating numbers, while adults will pause over Johnson’s deliberate use of shape and color to influence mood.”
- Kirkus Reviews