Brain Pickings

13 Words: Lemony Snicket + Maira Kalman


A despondent dog, a busy bird, and what iconic illustration has to do with the iPad.

We love iconic illustrator Maira Kalman and have a soft spot for the writings of Daniel Handler, better-known under his legal pen name, Lemony Snicket. Not to mention we’re all over a good trailer for a book. Naturally, we’re head over heels with 13 Words, the new book by Lemony Snicket with an illustrated trailer by Maira Kalman, who also illustrated the book itself.

13 Words is essentially a word book, but it’s no ordinary wordbook. Like those brilliantly reimagined alphabet books we featured some time ago, Snicket’s latest gem takes a children’s literature staple, simultaneously honoring it and flipping it on its head.

Snicket curates 13 of the most essential words of all time — OK, we know you’re dying to know: Bird, Despondent, Cake, Dog, Busy, Convertible, Goat, Hat, Haberdashery, Scarlet, Baby, Panache and Mezzo-Soprano — and pairs each with original illustrations in Kalman’s signature simple-loveliness style.

Quirky and irreverent, the book is as much an educational tool for kids as it is a work of cross-disciplinary art for grown-ups. But to take it one step further, we’d actually love to see it as an iPad app that really brings Kalman’s wonderful artwork to life at the fingertips of today’s digital-swazi kids.

13 Words is officially out on October 5, but is available for pre-order this week. And we have one word for it: Unungettable.

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