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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Z is for Zebra

Have you noticed that in children's books, Z is almost ALWAYS for zebra? It might be for something else as well, but zebra is nearly inevitably represented. For instance:

Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel (2007)

A to Z by Sandra Boynton (1984, 1995)

A to Z Animals: A Bedtime Story by Danice Baker. Illustrated by Judith Moffatt (2005)

Robert Crowther's Most Amazing Hide and Seek abc Alphabet Book (1977, 1999)

The Alphabet Book by P.D. Eastman (1974)

Even in non-alphabetical books, the zebra will get its due, such as in The Zoo Book by Jan Pfloog (1967); even the book is in the shape of a zebra.

Now, in English, an X in the first position usually sounds like an Z, such as xylophone. (An exception is a word like X-ray, where the letter sounds like ks.) Maybe, to lessen the burden on the poor zebra, we should attribute to Z some of those X words. Or not.

One of the first jokes I ever learned: what black and white and red all over? A sunburned zebra.



Anonymous said...

You could always have a picture of an NFL official instead! They seem to be called zebras by many people. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Roger I love your blog - lets hear it for the humble Zo, or Dzo, from I believe, Nepal. No idea what it looks like , but invaluable to know in bad poetry or Scrabble games.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Yep. Z, apparently, is for zebra!

: D

Anonymous said...

Well now, to be fair... my book does include a Zebu and a Zorilla, both indigenous to Zimbabwe, I might add.

I think most illustrators would tell you that Zebras are just awesome to draw. They're black and white, so they'll stand out from anything behind them or next to them on the page. Plus, they tend to inspire a bit more awe from children than zucchinis.

Gypsy Lala said...

yes, z always for zebra. you have a very sharp mind. Enjoy reading your blog.