The Making of an Alphabet Thief

Here at Groundwood, there’s nothing we love more than a little peek behind the scenes at how our books are made, so when Roxanna Bikadoroff mentioned that she still had some of her early sketches for The Alphabet Thief written by Bill Richardson, we jumped at the chance to share them with you, along with her explanation of how she designed the Alphabet Thief character.

When coming up with the Alphabet Thief character, the first visuals that popped into my head were of the Chief Blue Meanie from the animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine and of a classic 17th-century highwayman. I also tried to imagine what sort of person she was. What would drive someone to commit such crimes? Perhaps she had never learned to read, so hoarding letters and depriving others of words was her method of compensation or revenge. Like most serial criminals, the Alphabet Thief is after fame and notoriety, hence her flamboyant attire. Perhaps she sees herself as a bit of a Lone Ranger or Caped Crusader, with her steampunk goggles being a modern version of the classic eye mask.  Her enormous hat feather is indicative of a highly mercurial nature and her mismatched gloves show an imbalance (like the Chief Blue Meanie’s boots). I’m not really sure where her striped stockings came from, other than I wanted to break up the solid black.

I suppose this somewhat sympathetic antihero, who leaves a trail of altered reality in her wake, can be interpreted as being all right-brained (i.e. stolen letters are hung up as pictures, rather than used in words), while the little girl hero is more the rational left-brained sort, determined to solve a mystery (even dressed like Sherlock, at one point) and restore order to a surreal, dysfunctional world that has ceased to make sense.


The alphabet thief stole all of the B’s, and all of the bowls became owls…

When night falls, along comes a peculiar thief who steals each letter of the alphabet, creating a topsy-turvy world as she goes. It seems that no one can stop her, until the Z’s finally send her to sleep so that all the other letters can scamper back to where they belong.

Bill Richardson’s zany rhymes and Roxanna Bikadoroff’s hilarious illustrations will delight young readers with the silly fun they can have with language — and may even inspire budding young writers and artists to create their own word games.

Short Stories for Little Monsters — guest post by Marie-Louise Gay

This post was originally shared on Marie-Louise Gay’s website, and she’s allowed us to repost it here.

What planet does my new book Short Stories For Little Monsters come from? The planet of my childhood, of course, as well as the outer-space of my adolescence! But also from the hours of joy spent reading and sharing my favorite comic strips or bandes dessinées with my two young boys as they fell over laughing at the hilarious adventures and mishaps of Spirou, The Shtroumps, Lucky Luke, Le génie des Alpages, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Philémon and Le concombre masqué etc.

I wrote these stories to tickle the funnybone of my ticklish readers, to recapture that sense of wonder and absurdity that inhabits children’s minds, the curiosity and boundless imagination that easily crosses the border between reality and fantasy.

Some of these stories are true, like Zombie-Mom, where a mother can see through ceilings all the mischief her children are getting into. Guess who the mother is ?

Other stories came to me as I walked through forests, eavesdropping on trees as in What do Trees Talk About?

I also eavesdropped on my kids when they started bossing worms around as in the story called Worms.

Nineteen short stories about invisible boys, arrogant snails, the secret life of rabbits and many more. Stories full of laughter, jokes and truth, sometimes stranger than fiction.

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