Subscribe to The Horn Book

Rocker Moms v. Soccer Moms

B is for Boombox”; “F is for Flames”; “M is for Mohawk.”
— from Alternative ABCs by 13th Floor

Okay. I know I’m not the intended audience for this book, as a parent or as a children’s book reviewer. I’m not young, hip, or edgy — quite the opposite on all counts. But AMMO Books sent this no-baby-appeal board book to the Horn Book, so it’s fair game, I say.

Alternative ABCs is an unfocused grab-bag mash-up of anything that smells even remotely counterculture-y or anti-establishment. We’ve got the twenty-six letters represented by such things as Earth Day and hot rods, skulls and tattoo ink, quarter pipes and vegetarians. (Hey! I’m a vegetarian! Maybe they aretalking to me.) Adding to the noise, the often unreadable text and chaotic graphic design completely overwhelm each double-page spread.

This hipster baby shower gift (if hipster parents-to-be have showers) has me looking more affectionately at the previously maligned Baby Goes Beep board book — at least that baby’s got kid appeal. Also, I’m reminded of Candlewick’s 2009 Art for Baby, which while taking a gimmicky highbrow approach to the concept book still has the right stuff to engage the youngest book lover. Alternative ABCs offers nothing for infants and toddlers beyond a lot of attitude and thick, sturdy, chewable pages.

On their website, the publisher admits as much: “This is the board book that Soccer Moms run from and Rocker Moms gravitate to.” Come on, AMMO Books, give Rocker Moms a bit more credit. Why wouldn’t they want to stimulate their babies’ interest in books as much as anyone in mom jeans?

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. KT Horning says:

    >I dunno. Looks a little tame for the rocker moms. Maira Kalman is more their style, I think.

    And, c'mon, if they'd done their research they would have know that V is for VEGAN, not VEGETARIAN.

  2. >I wish a vegan cookbook would come out of the box…

  3. >I don't think they could make up their minds about who rocker moms are or what they like. Any vegan rocker moms out there? Care to chime in?

  4. Jeanette Larson says:

    >Why can't V be for Vegetarian? All vegans are vegetarian but not all vegetarians are vegan.

  5. >Do punk-rock chicks really call it a "boombox"? Why not "B is for Badass"? 🙂 Makes me think of the "Freaks & Geeks" (RIP) episode where Daniel (before-he-was-movie-star-famous-but-was-still-broodingly-beautiful-*sigh* James Franco) tries to change his image from stoner to punker. The heavily pierced girl he's trying to impress calls him out: "You know what punkers don't do? Call themselves punkers."

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >"Hey, I'm hip–LOL, laughing out loud; WTF, why the face?" (Modern Family)

  7. >This is the kind of thing that is – in my opinion – not targeted at the actual target audience, but instead, at people who know and love the target audience but haven't the first clue what might actually appeal (or not.) I have pink hair and tattoos as well as a three-year-old son (though I listen to far more hip hop than alterna-anything), and would probably be squarely in what ought to be the target audience for this book, but the book itself fills me with rage and aggravation. So I will probably get at least one, possibly from my aunt.

  8. >katie: exactly. My favorite pinky/purply-haired, pierced, tattooed mama friend told me once that she couldn't stand baby clothes with skulls on them, but her child-free friends thought black onesies with skulls and crossbones were hilarious and an appropriate look.

  9. >I'm sad that G isn't for "guyliner."

  10. >I'll take the decidedly non-edgy, but developmentally appropriate, allure of Baby Goes Beep any day.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind