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PilobolusThe Human Alphabet

Submitter: This is one of the books we have on our shelves at our public library to teach kids about the alphabet! I can’t believe it hasn’t been weeded from our collection yet. The funny and awkward poses had our library staff cracking up as we flipped through this gem. Many of the people are positioned insanely awkwardly and they are all in leotards, which adds to the awkward. I actually recommended this to a patron once on accident before I knew what it contained.

Holly: It took me a while to figure out what the shapes the humans are creating have to do with the letters being represented. I still haven’t figured out some of them. The A shape (below) looks like they are making ants out of their bodies. The D is people making up the shape of a dinosaur. O is an octopus. Okaaaaay…but what is the N and the P? The P looks like a rocking horse. “Pony,” maybe? The whole thing is a little odd.


Human alphabet - A

Human Alphabet D

Human Alphabet N

Human alphabet O

Human Alphabet P


  1. Maybe not in the kids’ section, but Pilobolus dance troupe is fabulous. they’ve been around
    for at least 30 years i think. I think this book is a keeper.

  2. P is for rocking horse. What? With a bit of fantasy that does look like a living, red rocking horse. “It” even got a pony tail.
    N may be a merry-go-round. Hmmm.
    Also, the tail dragging tripod stand of the “dinosaur” is outdated from a palaeontology standpoint.

  3. I think O is for Octopus. My husband shared the trick that if you close one eye and unfocus then you can see the outline of the shapes.

  4. Wow… I shared this with my husband who ended up looking the book up on Amazon to figure out what the N was… turns out it’s nest.

  5. My mom took me to see Pilobolus when I was a kid, and she was quite a fan as I recall. Remember, submitter, that kids learning ABC’s don’t likely have the adult thoughts we do, so the leotards are probably only a problem for the parents.

    Do you really think there are two people on top of the bottom “R” guy, or is it photo trickery? That position is very hard to accomplish with no one else’s weight on you, but two people?! Amazing if true.

  6. That looks fascinating. Though it would not appeal to many children and would have benefitted from getting recatalogued. I think a lot of your more artsy adults would love it.

  7. N is for “Noooooo” which is what you say if someone asks you to be the middle between everyone’s butts.

  8. I think Pilobolus is great, and I would definitely not weed this, except for condition issues.

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