#459 – The Bad Alphabet by E. C. Chen


The Bad Alphabet

by E. C. Chen

Zebra Ginkgo Group


Back Cover:  An updated redesigned twist on the classic alphabet book. Written for kids of all ages, particularly those in early grade school, this clever book explains many of the generally accepted “bad” behaviors in society are. The Bad Alphabet depicts an improper and disagreeable lizard named Lance who participates in an A to Z procession of inappropriate actions. Lance and his multiple animal peers are found in various settings of home, school, and pubic life.With superb professionally illustrated full-color pictures, Lance comes to life in a way that shows why being bad has consequences. Beautifully scripted with rhyming prose, young children who are still malleable, will be focused on the pleasing text, bright colors, and ethical concepts displayed. Social norms and values regarding views on unacceptable conduct are shown so that kids may understand what NOT to do. The Bad Alphabet s a truly fun book that allows kids to know what is “BAD” so they can behave “Good!”

Opening:  A Lance the Lizard had a lot of arrogance. He wore his fancy pants from France and pranced around at the dance. Nobody liked him. A IS FOR ARROGANCE


The Bad Alphabet ABC book is not your normal, everyday alphabet book for young children starting to learn the letters of the English language. The ABCs are represented, one per page, with a corresponding word. There is also a story. Lance the lizard is a horrible friend. He is Arrogant, Bites his friends, and Cheats on school tests—and caught by the wise owl teacher.

The left side of the spread announces the letter and then Lance’s story for that letter written in a few short sentences. On the right side is the letter and the main word about Lance’s behavior, which will begin with that letter. Also on the right side, is a large color illustration of Lance misbehaving with his friends or others, such as the wise owl at school who catches Lance cheating.

fr1 b

I am not sure it is a good idea trying to teach young children two concepts—the alphabet and bad behavior—together. Attention spans at this age, 1 to 6, can be very short. Many of the bad behaviors young children will have no knowledge of at such an early age. Arrogance, insulting, nuisance, quarrelling, and using drugs may not be the best subjects for this age group. I am not saying kids should not learn to avoid these bad behaviors, I just think the behaviors should fit the age group. But then, the author stated the intended age of the reader from age 3 to 13, quite a large age range for an ABC book–toddler to middle grade, nearly the entire range for children’s books.

Part of the story, for example letter ‘N,’ designed to give examples of the selected word to help children understand that word, but is written above the reading level of young children. For example, Nuisance:

N Lance the lizard was a nuisance. He would play the drums with exuberance – the way he disturbed the peace was quite an abhorrence. Nobody liked him.” (underline mine)

I applaud the attempt to think outside the box and give children a story with the alphabet and to use that story to teach unacceptable behaviors in an attempt to help children behave properly. But the letter N, above, is but one example of the words that are above a child’s ability at the learning the ABCs age. Nuisance, exuberance, and abhorrence are terrific words, just not in an ABC book.

fr3 back cover

The illustrations are indeed composed of “bright colors” and kids will find the illustrations “fun.” I think older kids will enjoy the text and understand the concepts from A to Z, while younger children, those usually needing to learn the alphabet, are too young for some of the content. Physically, the bright yellow cover grabs your attention and Lance the naughty lizard made me wonder what was so bad about the alphabet. The pages are too thin for younger children’s little fingers. It would be easy to tear the pages in an instant and there goes letters G through L.

The Bad Alphabet ABC book has a dual goal that does not work as intended. The words are generally acceptable and largely different from most ABC books. The author was thinking BIG and the result is a book with two good purposes: a brightly colored ABC book for young children, and a manner book for the older child that shows the bad behavior in hopes kids will be disgusted with Lance’s behavior.

fr2 t

The Bad Alphabet is a clever way to teach manners to kids, though older kids may be offended with the use of an ABC book, younger kids may not be able to grasp some of the larger words, and others might see this as a great idea.   With some tweaking, it just might work.


The Bad Alphabet

by E. C. Chen     IMDb    bio     facebook

Zebra Ginkgo Group     website

Released May 1, 2013

ISBN:  o

62 pages

Age 3 to 13


THE BAD ALPHABET. Text copyright © 2013 by E. C. Chen. Reproduced by permission of the author.



bad abcs discl



16 thoughts on “#459 – The Bad Alphabet by E. C. Chen

    • Aw, why grumpy? Except for Lance, the rest are cute and nice. Did you have a bad experience with a lizard? Maybe stepped on a chameleon and have its tale pop off? I did when I was 14. Freaked me out and I stepped over those buggers like they were cracks that would break my mother’s back.

      But for a dog, stepping on a creature and having its tale pop off could mare the pup for life. I’m thinking about looking into pet therapy. If I do this I’ll send you my card. 🙂


      • Sue, where were you that you saw chameleons all over, and stepped on its tail, no less? My eyes just bugged out reading that. Now THAT’s something to write a book about 😀 hehehe


        • I was 14 and we were vacationing in St. Petersburg, Florida at a hotel/motel off the coast. Those little buggers were all over the sidewalks, especially after this fierce storm hit us. Even a horseshoe crab got thrown way up on the beach, landing upside down. He could not move until someone flipped him over.

          The first time I stepped on one and it ran off I remember screaming and someone laughed. I did not see the humor in it. Still do not. But by now, that little chameleon has his tail back . . . unless someone else stepped on him. They also change colors to match their surroundings, which made it hard to miss them.


  1. I think you’re right. The concepts are for older kids while the alphabet is for little ones. That being said, I have a manuscript called Naughty ABCs. It’s an ABC book that tells a story about a naughty dog that goes to school to learn to be good. He stops his oroginal naughty behaviors, and he figures out how to be naughty in other ways. I’ve never submitted it, but I may take another look at it today.


    • Genevieve, The Naughty ABCs sounds really cute. Definitely worth pulling out of the drawer. I bet it would be a fun book to illustrate.


    • I love it! Is this possibly inspired by Cupcake? This does sound good. I would definitely read it. I like that he tries to figure out new ways to be naughty rather than give in and learn to be nice. It’s different. Great twist. 🙂


  2. I agree with your points, Sue, completely. I think you’re spot on with your assessment! With a little tweaking, this could work! 😀 In my opinion, it shouldn’t be used—at all—as a book to teach the alphabet to pre-schoolers and kindergardeners. The vocabulary can’t be explained and the learning of the letters won’t sink in. The correlation doesn’t work. But I do think it’s a clever way to approach teaching children about wrong behavior. I can’t see a child above 5 or 6 years old being interested in this book, and I agree the vocabulary is a bit steep for that age group, as well. To me, the easiest change would be the title, perhaps something like “THE ABC’S OF MISBEHAVING” so the focus is on the misbehaving, not the alphabet, and using the alphabet as a guide would simply be the book’s approach, not part of its purpose. Then it has a more clear target age range, just as you said. I do think the illustrations are really well done and I hope the book finds its place in the market. If a couple of changes are considered, it just might 🙂


If you like this post ... Why?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.