Parents and Kids: Alphabets and Symbols

Numbers Everywhere

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A follow up the successful 2012 Abbeville Kids title Alphabet Everywhere, Elliott Kaufman’s creative photography book allows children (and adults) to discover unintended number shapes found in unexpected places.

A visual feast and will be treasured by kids with an eye for detail. -- Kirkus Reviews

Some people can see all kinds of shapes in clouds; Elliott Kaufman can seeletters and numbers just about everywhere. -- The New York Times

After reading this book, readers will feel inspired to encounter numbers in their everyday activities. Clear color photographs, bright colors and textures, and quality construction make this a playful and imaginative addition that should stir up lots of creative adventures. -- School Library Journal

As in Alphabet Everywhere, where there was a world of letters just waiting to be discovered, Numbers Everywhere reveals how digits and mathematical symbols can be found in the world around us -- if we know how to look for them. In this engaging and delightful book, Kaufman reveals the "secret" life of numbers through his photographs, showing how they can be found in things we encounter everyday. Each number is represented by multiple images, unintentionally created by the intersection of architectural details, shadows, light, or natural elements as caught by the photographer’s keen eye. In “addition"… Numbers Everywhere includes “formulas” for budding mathematicians to solve. This fun approach also reinforces the notion that learning to see the familiar in new ways encourages visual literacy and creativity.

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Alphabet Everywhere

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There is a world of letters just waiting to be discovered in the world around us -- if we know how to look for it.

In this engaging and delightful book, photographer Elliott Kaufman reveals the "secret" life of the alphabet through his photographs, showing how letters can be found in things we encounter every day. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by multiple images, each unintentionally created by the intersection of architectural details, shadows, light, or natural elements as caught by Kaufman's keen eye. Some are obvious, while others demand a little more imagination to recognize, inviting the readers to start their own game of hunting for letters! This fun approach also reinforces the notion that learning to see the familiar in new ways encourages visual literacy and creativity.

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Japanese Alphabet

The 48 Essential Characters

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A useful companion to Abbeville’s Chinese Calligraphy, this clear and concise handbook is the ultimate guide to the complexity and beauty of the Japanese writing systems, for writers and readers alike.

In the fourth century A.D., through contact with Korea, Japan adopted the Chinese writing system which had been sweeping through Asia along with the new Buddhist religion. Modern Japanese writing uses three main scripts: kanji (Chinese ideograms), which are used for proper names, for nouns, and for verb roots; hiragana (deriving from the terms hira, “common,” and kana “borrowed character”), used for adding to and distinguishing from sequences of Japanese grammar; and katakana (from kata, “part,” and kana, “borrowed character” or rather, “partially borrowed character”), which is used to denote foreign pronunciations or to write terms borrowed from foreign languages.

With large depictions and clear step-by-step instructions, Mandel illustrates all 48 sounds in Japanese, presented in the traditional iroha order, in hiragana, katakana, and kanji forms, and each entry is accompanied with its roma-ji, or Roman phonetic spelling. The author clearly indicates the correct sequence for writing the individual strokes, and provides each kana, or character, with the Chinese kanji from which it was derived. He relates a concise history of Japanese writing, and provides the reader with charts of the Japanese and Chinese numbers, the hiragana and katakana contractions, and the“keys” or radicals that make up the Japanese kanji. A comprehensive guide to all of the characters of the Japanese alphabet, this is an ideal primer for the beginner, as well as a convenient reference for a more advanced student. Joining Abbeville’s Chinese Calligraphy, Maya Script, and Arabic Script, Japanese Alphabet is an exhaustive compendium of the Japanese writing system and indispensable addition to any Japanese linguist’s library.

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Arabic Script

Styles, Variants and Calligraphic Adaptations

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This fascinating guide to the Arabic alphabet and writing styles also offers an ample and thorough overview of a culture and a civilization.

One of the world’s major forms of writing, Arabic script is the language of the Koran and became widespread as a result of Islamic conquests of much of the world. The Koran places great importance on writing, and in the first verse of the holy book, reading and writing with the calamus, or reed pen, are praised as the source of all knowledge and all spiritual or scientific paths of change. For this reason the Islamic world is known for its reverence for books, as well as its love of writing. Eventually Arabic script gave rise to calligraphic art, which became an art form of astonishing beauty. More highly regarded than painting, Arabic calligraphy is approached aesthetically, like music, with its own rules of composition, rhythm, and harmony.

This enlightening book helps us discover an alphabet that throughout the centuries has been linked to the secular and religious worlds of Islam. The text explains the history and meaning of each letter, as well as its philosophical, theological, and cultural significance, and 300 two-color and black-and-white pictures illustrate the letters, their variants, and calligraphic adaptations. An ideal book for linguists, graphic designers, and collectors of Islamic art, Arabic Script will also prove handy for travelers who wish to become familiar with the rudiments of the alphabet.

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Maya Script

A Civilization and Its Writing

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A fascinating handbook revealing the secrets of the symbolic written characters of the ancient Maya people, which provides a vivid portrait of their gods, people, and everyday life.

By the time Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, Maya cities had long since fallen into a state of decay and abandonment. Europeans were impressed by the painted books of the Maya but concluded that they did not have a system of writing because no alphabetic value could be given to their script. This impression remained in the West until recently when researchers finally succeeded in deciphering the written record of the Mayas.

Maya Script presents about 200 Maya glyphs (symbolic figures). Some are ideograms (pictorial symbols representing things, not words); others are phonetic signs. The glyphs express people, animals, things, and such abstract concepts as death. Each one opens a window onto fragments of everyday life, religious beliefs, or even emotions. The complexity of the Maya calendar, mathematical computations, and astronomy reveals a highly developed civilization. This book also features two-color drawings of the glyphs, illustrations from reliefs and Spanish codices, and examples of Maya sculpture and paintings. Concluding the book are a chapter on writing systems of the New World, a bibliography, and an index of glyphs. This informative book is a travelogue back in time for anyone intrigued by ancient civilizations.

 

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Hieroglyphics

The Language of Ancient Egypt

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A complete handbook revealing the secrets of the hieroglyphic writing of the Nile Valley, which provides a still-vivid snapshot of the gods, the people, and the everyday life of the Ancient Egyptians.

Both literal and highly lyrical, hieroglyphics bring alive a distant world, with descriptions of the natural environment, the art, the society, the religious beliefs, and even the philosophical basis of a culture that flourished 5,000 years ago. Presenting and explaining almost 600 of the figures used in the classic phase of Egypt's "sacred writing," this fascinating volume traces the origins and the meaning of each sign, as well as its graphic stylization.

An opening essay reveals the secrets of the hieroglyphic system, including its development and its structural characteristics, and emphasizes the sacred, evocative, even magical power of the form, which — unlike our own abstract alphabet — is immediate and expressive. Concluding the book are a complete glossary, a bibliography, and an index, designed to make this book invaluable to the casual reader as well as the student and specialist.

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Chinese Calligraphy

From Pictograph to Ideogram: The History of 214 Essential Chinese/Japanese Characters

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An illuminating history of 214 Chinese/Japanese calligraphic characters.

Written Chinese can call upon about 40,000 characters, many of which originated some 6,000 years ago as little pictures of everyday objects used by the ancients to communicate with one another. To convey more abstract ideas or concepts, the Chinese stylized and combined their pictographs. For instance, the character for “man”—a straight back above two strong legs—becomes, with the addition of a head and shoulders and arms held sternly akimbo, the character for “official.” This book, modeled after a classic compilation of the Chinese language done in the 18th century, introduces readers to the 214 root pictographs or symbols upon which this writing system, whose rich complexities hold a wealth of cultural meaning, is based. These key characters, called radicals, are all delightfully presented in this volume, with their graphic development traced stage-by-stage to the present representation, where even now (in many of them) one can easily make out what was originally pictured—with the author’s guidance. Centuries ago, when the Japanese took up writing, they also adopted these symbols, though they gave them different names in their own spoken language.

Each of the 214 classic radicals is charmingly explored by the author, both for its etymology and for what it reveals about Chinese history and culture. Chinese characters are marvels of graphic design, and this book even shows the proper way to write each radical, stroke by stroke. Finally, there are also samples of each radical combined with other radicals and character elements to demonstrate how new characters are formed—some 8,000 have been added to the language since the eighteenth century. With all its expertly executed calligraphic illustrations and fascinating commentary, this book serves as an excellent introduction to Chinese writing and its milieu.

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