Children's Books

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

Maira Kalman’s exuberant illustrations and humorous commentary bring design history to life in this inspired ABC book that celebrates thirty-one objects from the Cooper Hewitt, in time for its long-awaited reopening. "A. Ah-ha! There you Are." begins Maira Kalman’s joyfully illustrated romp through the treasures of Cooper Hewitt’s design collection. With her signature wit and warm humor, Kalman’s ABC book introduces children and adults to the myriad ways design touches our lives. Posing the question "If you were starting a museum, what would you put in your collection?", Kalman encourages the reader to put pen to paper and send in personal letters—an intimate, interactive gesture to top off her unique tour of the world of design. Objects ranging from a thirteenth-century silk thinking cap to 1889 tin slippers with bows, all the way to Gerrit Rietveld’s Zig-Zag chair are brought to colorful life. Kalman’s hand-lettered text is whimsical and universal in turns, drawing lessons as easily from a worn old boot as a masterpiece of midcentury modernism. Irresistibly, we are led to agree, "Everything is design."

About The Author

Maira Kalman is the best-selling author of thirteen children’s books and eight adult books. Among her adult classics are The Elements of Style, an illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s timeless grammar guide, and two picture books of essays based on yearlong online columns for the New York Times, And the Pursuit of Happiness, and The Principles of Uncertainty. She is the "M" in M&Co, the revolutionary design firm founded by her late husband, Tibor Kalman, with whom she was a constant collaborator.

  • Publish Date: November 04, 2014
  • Format: eBook
  • Category: Juvenile Nonfiction - Concepts - Alphabet
  • Publisher: Skira Rizzoli
  • Pages: 48
  • US Price: $9.99
  • CDN Price: $10.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-4694-8


"Children of all ages can enjoy Cooper Hewitt’s latest literary offering: Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, a delightful illustrated guide to the museum’s permanent collection conceived by artist and author Maira Kalman. The book’s release is set to coincide with the institution’s much-anticipated December reopening. Traveling A to Z through centuries of great design, Kalman’s picture book is as educational as it is whimsical.” –Architectural Digest

“Best Book of the year selection: Maira Kalman's whimsical, sublimely silly alphabet book celebrates the newly renovated Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum by featuring 31 of her favorite objects from the collection.” –National Public Radio

"Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, a children’s alphabet book with original gouaches of objects in Cooper Hewitt’s design collection. These books will likely become their owners’ own personal treasures, just like the “stuff” pictured inside was once for someone long ago." -Quartz

Must-Have Coffee Table Book. Ahead of the re-opening of New York's Cooper Hewitt museum this winter, illustrator Maira Kalman will release a whimsical alphabet book of her favorite objects from the institution's vast collection.” –Harpers Bazaar

" alphabet of curiosities annotated with show-and-tell wisdom." –Design Observer

Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: Maira Kalman’s Sweet Design-History Alphabet Book…I find the letters of the alphabet and the words they make insufficient to express the boundless wonderfulness of Kalman’s Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag…this ABC gem —doubles as a design-history primer full…of a playful celebration of uncertainty and imperfection…Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag is an absolute delight in its entirety.” –

Author Bookshelf: Maira Kalman