In celebration of her forthcoming picture book Awake Beautiful Child, we’ve teamed up with best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal to bring about a little tidiness and order into the lives of strangers everywhere, through a project we’re calling Alphabetically Organized Strangers. We’ll be battling entropy by awkwardly approaching our fellow humans, and we hope you’ll join us!


You’re at the bus stop, in line at the grocery store, at the airport gate, in an elevator, etc., and there’s a group of strangers standing about. Many are probably staring silently at a phone or a newspaper or a new book by McSweeney’s.

Walk over and introduce yourself. Don’t be shy—learn their names.

Mention that Amy Krouse Rosenthal and McSweeney’s sent you, and ask if they mind being photographed in the name of art and order. If they don’t mind, take a picture of the group.

Now ask your new friends if they’ll kindly rearrange themselves alphabetically, by first name. Then take a picture of your now-alphabetized assemblage.

Congratulations! Amidst chaos and anonymity, you’ve instilled order and camaraderie.

Share your pictures on Twitter (our handle is @mcsweeneys) using the hashtag #abcstrangers, and you’ll automatically be entered into a contest to win a free, limited-edition tote bag—we’ll be giving out a new one every day. Each week we’ll also draw randomly from the daily winners and select two people to receive a free, signed copy of Awake Beautiful Child. All our favorite pictures will go up on this page.


For more alphabetized excitement, don’t miss Rosenthal and illustrator Gracia Lam’s Awake Beautiful Child. In its starred review of the book, Publishers Weekly exclaims that “Rosenthal again demonstrates her ability to use wordplay to create stories with real emotional depth,” while “Lam’s debut couldn’t be more polished and confident: her palette seems to shift with the day’s waxing and waning light, while her crisp, screenprintlike images have an understated poise and precision that highlights the quiet magic of everyday moments.” The book is available now on our online store, and you can save $5 off the cover price when you enter the promo code #abcstrangers.

This sweet, simple story tells of a young child’s typical day—from morning to bedtime. Like the title, each scene is described in three-word “ABC” phrases, such as “All Begins Cheerily.” Secret “ABC” scenes hidden throughout the artwork—as a secondary “seek and find” game of sorts—will encourage multiple readings and reward close looking. An ideal book to read aloud just after waking or just before bed.