Sonderbooks Book Review of

Ah-hA to Zig-Zag

31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

by Maira Kalman

Ah-hA to Zig-Zag
31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

by Maira Kalman

Review posted March 19, 2015.
Cooper Hewitt, Skira Rizzoli, 2014. 54 pages.
Starred Review

Maira Kalman is pretty much the definition of quirky. On the title page, under the subtitle it says, "Maira Kalman went to the museum. She chose objects from the collection and made this book for you. Completely for you."

First, it's very loosely an alphabet book. Each letter has a picture of something from the museum and some writing about it. Something like this (with the picture from the front):


(Except for your dog)

This is the cutest dog on Earth. with the cutest Eyebrows on Earth.

"I really am Extremely cute."



The hat on this woman From France is Fluffy and Frothy and Fantastic and Funny.



It is Very Very Very Very (Very) nice to snuggle.



Dance. Run. Smell flowers. Jump for joY. Laugh. CrY. Be mean. Be kind. Eat toast. Be cozy. And be forever Young.

After Z for Zig-Zag, we have:


We left out


Oh well. We all make mistakes. Yesterday I wore two different socks. No big deal.

Then there is a double-page spread at the back with photos of all the objects portrayed and notes about what they are. The dog for E is "Figure of a poodle, England, 1820-40; Glazed earthenware." The lady for F is from "Postcard, A Travers la Normandie; Coiffes et Costumes anciens, about 1909; Printed card with hand coloring." V refers to "Salt and pepper shakers, Town and Country, 1946; Glazed earthenware, cork." Y deals with "Square, Boy and Girl, 1947; Printed silk." And O features "Pair of stockings, France, 1850-1900; Knitted silk."

Then at the end, Maira Kalman tells the story of Nellie and Sally Hewitt.

They loved to sing and dance.
They were just a little bit wild.
A little bit.
They had sharp eyes. The kind of eyes that really LOOK at things.
One day they decided to collect the things they loved, and create a museum.
And they really did it.
Which is a lesson to be learned.
If you have a good idea -- DO IT.

This book gives me a good idea: I should go to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

I have another good idea: I should tell you to check out this book!