C D B! and C D C? – William Steig

C D B! and C D C? are incredibly clever and unique picture books. Each page has some letters and a pen and ink drawings from renowned cartoonist and children’s author William Steig. (He also wrote a picture book about an ogre named Shrek!) Below the drawings are letters, and an occasional number or symbol. At first glance, they don’t seem to make any sense. But if you read the letters aloud you can puzzle out words and sentences. The titles of these books are really read as “See the Bee!” and “See the Sea?”.

For example, in C D B! a picture of two children looking at a bee on a flower has the following dialogue “D B S A B-Z B.” and “O, S N-D!” which can be read as “The bee is a busy bee” and “Oh, yes indeed!”. In C D C? two boys are watching a baseball game on TV. One says “R T-M S B-N B-10” which can be read as “Our team has been beaten”. And another picture show a couple with raised wine glasses toasting a very old man sitting in a chair. The symbols below say “¢-10-E-L” for centennial.

Some of the cartoons will need explaining to children. They may not know what a tenor is, or what it means to be in tune, or what analysis means. C D B! was originally published n 1968. I remember trying to decipher the word puzzles as a child. Some I never did get as a child, I’m sure it was just not knowing or understanding the words. C D C? was published in 1984. Both books are favorites with collectors and have been reissued with full color illustrations. Also new is an answer key in the back, for any puzzles you are stuck on.

These are fun books for children and grownups alike to puzzle over.

Also See:

Top 10 Picture and Read-aloud Books for Ages 5 to 7

The “I Spy” Books

Anti-Coloring Books – Fun for the Imagination