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Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

"Y" is for "Yellowhammer."

At least, that's what is stands for in a new children's illustrated alphabet book we received recently. One of the more delightful perks of working here is that we get all kinds of books sent to us to review, and occasionally, some of them are pretty good. This one,

"Y is for Yellowhammer," is a series of books, each one based on a different state. The Alabama one not only picks out the yellowhammer, the state bird, but other things unique to the state for each letter in the alphabet. Some are obvious, such as "D is for Dixie." Some are surprising, like "B is for Bellingrath." Not that I have anything against the fabulous Bellingrath Gardens, but I can hear natives saying "Excuse me? B is for Bama! B is for Bear!" At least they had the sense to make "F" for "Football," although the colors on the page do seem more orange and blue than they do red and white…

On the whole, I think it's a great idea, and I'm looking forward to the Tennessee version, which hasn't been finished yet. D is for Dollywood? M is for Monkey Trial?

I think every industry, occupation and hobby should have its own alphabet book. My own 4-year-old gave me the first entry for one of those when he brought home a booklet he'd made himself at pre-school. It was all about the letter "E" and had eggs, of course, and elephants, and a picture of an envelope.

"See," said Buzz, pointing to the envelope. "E is for Email."

Is this a child of the Computer Age, or what? Other letters for the computer alphabet book could include:

C is for Crash

V is for Virus

F is for Frustration

G is for Geek (or Gates -- pretty interchangeable)

T is for Teenager (or technical expert, also pretty interchangeable)

Here at the paper, we could make our own alphabet. B is for Bug (that's that nifty little box that has our photograph and the name of our column in it), D is for Deadline, and W is for Widow (which can either mean a single line of copy left at the end of a column, or the spouse of a journalist wondering when they are ever going to see their loved one in daylight again).

For the law enforcement book, we could have F is for Felon, P is for Perpetrator, D is for Drugs (or Dummies, again, interchangeable), O is for Overworked and U is for Underpaid and Under-appreciated.

The big problem with these alphabet books is, of course, Q, X and Z. The "Yellowhammer" book gets around it with "Q is for Pine Burr Quilt," "X is for the X-15A-2 Rocket" and "Z is for Brother Joseph Zoettl."

Before I write my versions of these alphabet books, I'm going to have to find a way to include Queens, X-rays and Zebras into the computer, newspaper, and law enforcement worlds.