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Excerpts and Info

Most alphabet books include words that start with each letter. A is for alligator. B is for bear. C is for cat. Missing Letters is different. It highlights each letter by showing what can happen when it is removed. See sample pages below.

The book starts with simple nouns and the key letters are in the usual place, at the start of the words (see acorn and block). But throughout the book, there are also verbs (like sip and boost) and adjectives (like slippery and far) and the key letters show up in various places in the words.

There are even different letters missing from the same word (see boost missing an s but also boost missing a t) and throughout the book you will encounter various other creative and humorous word pairs. On the Word Games page you can see word pairs that did not make the book or you can submit your own for the contest and giveaway.

Samples Pages

Fun Facts About the Book

The inspiration for Missing Letters came when Sam made a comment to his young sons that LEGOs, without the O, would just be legs. That led to them working together to come up with several other missing letter word pairs, just for fun. The first one that made it into the book is Farm/Far. There were dozens left on the cutting room floor. (For the book Sam wanted to have words that were not only familiar to kids from a variety of cultural backgrounds, but also word pairs that worked both aurally and in spelling.)

Leon Thomas was an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri majoring in digital storytelling. Sam and Leon had worked together briefly in the past and Sam knew Leon’s art style would fit exceptionally well for this new sort of alphabet book that was taking shape. Leon was happy to join the effort and the two met and traded sketches and notes to bring the book to life. Leon brought a great sense of character, with a keen attention to racial and gender diversity, and he was willing to embrace some of the absurdist humor.

“Banana Lamb” is what we call the character on the cover, one of our favorites from the book. Banana Lamb makes appearances not only on the cover but also Banana/Baaa and, if you look closely, Farm/Far.

Missing Letters Cover
Dedication of the book to each child because with them this world would not be the same.

“Thomas’ lively illustrations enhance Otten’s writing and invite readers to put their phonological awareness to work. A fun family read, this interactive book is perfect for teaching emergent readers the alphabet, as well as introducing all to the joy of play with language.”

Dr. Angie Zapata, Literacy Education

Podcast interview (19 minutes): Sam talks about the creation of the book, Leon’s illustrative contributions, and their favorite and most challenging letters.

If you or a child in your life finds a missing letter pair of words, we’d love to share it on our Word Games page!


4 thoughts on “Excerpts and Info

    1. MOON, without an n, becomes MOO. This could be a funny sketch of a crescent moon turning into a word balloon from a cow, “Moo.”


      1. The “Moo” would pair nicely with the “Baa” from Banana Lamb. I’m going to see if Leon or I can sketch that one out for fun.


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