New Take on the Alphabet in a Language Adventure for Young Children

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"Francisco’s Fabulous Friends: An Adventure from A to Z" by Taco Matthews Pairs Whimsical Drawings with Fresh Approach to a Classic Form

Francisco's Fabulous Friends

Francisco's Fabulous Friends

Very cleverly written...Would definitely recommend!

Parents are all too familiar with the alphabet book: “a is for apple, b is for banana,” yet they know this literary staple is a useful learning tool for their young children. Pinwheel Books, an independent publisher of children’s books and animated apps based in Brookline, MA, has now published a twist on the alphabet book that will delight both children and parents with its unexpected pairings of letters and words.

In "Francisco's Fabulous Friends: An Adventure from A to Z" the quirky alliterations are brought to life with illustrations of animals engaged in active pursuits. They are all friends of Francisco the Frog, who introduces them to the reader; for example: “Oscar the ostrich is operatic. He needs a spotlight, don’t you think?” Francisco’s friends defy cliché and the book operates with a gentle humor.

Taco Matthews is an author and illustrator of children’s books. She created Francisco the Frog as a character many years ago, when she was a landscape designer in her native Japan. She has illustrated four children’s books (one presented as a story on Japanese television). As a graphic designer she has created posters for the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Taco lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is at work on Francisco’s next adventure, Francisco’s Fabulous Figs, a counting book, also to be publisher by Pinwheel Books.

Francisco’s Fabulous Friends: An Adventure from A to Z is available in print ($14.95) and electronic editions ($4.99) as an application for the iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kindle, and other e readers. To preview the book online, readers may go to

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One parent’s review of Francisco’s Fabulous Friends: “I downloaded the electronic version of this book to my iPad and my 2.5 year old loves to "read" it! I like that it's not simply the usual "A is for apple" "C is for cat" story. Instead, for each letter, 3 words are given - typically one simple one, one name of a "friend," and one more advanced word. For example, F says "fish, Francis, fashionable" then goes on to give a sentence including all 3 words. Very cleverly written and beautiful illustrations! Also, the more advanced words make it a great book for older siblings to read with their younger brothers & sisters. Would definitely recommend!” (Posted on Amazon Books.)

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Pinwheel Books is a small publisher of children’s books, ebooks and animated apps located in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was founded by award-winning journalist Sylvia Pagán Westphal. In addition to publishing print books, the company produces animated children’s apps for clients in the publishing industry.

Pinwheel’s book and e-book "Sam and Ben," about twin boys who are not at all the same, has become a big hit among the twin parenting community. It will soon be launched as an animated app in the Apple App Store as wel as Android tablets. The book and e-book is also available in a Spanish edition, called "Samuel y Benito."


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Sylvia Pagán Westphal