AH! BELLE CITé! / A BEAUTIFUL CITY ABC
Volume 14 Number 3
Ah! Belle Cité! / A Beautiful City ABC is the third in the series of children's books Tundra is producing on Canadian districts and cities. The first is A Northern Alphabet ¹ by Ted Harrison, which describes life in Northern Canada and Alaska; the second, by Alan Moak on Toronto, is A Big City ABC (Tundra, 1984). Each book as illustrated by an artist who is familiar with, and a lover of, the area he paints. These books are not alphabet books in the sense of teaching small children the letters of the alphabet. They reveal the charm of certain districts of Canada and can encourage a child to look around and "alphabetize" favourite surroundings.Stéphane Poulin was only twenty-two years old when he began writing and illustrating Ah! Belle Cite!/A Beautiful City ABC. By that time he had already won two awards for children's book illustration. To create a true flavour of Montréal, the author travelled miles on his bicycle, through the streets of the city, sketching, photographing, and taking notes on places he loved as a child Poulin used only four colours from his palette for all the paintings in the book, yet each painting is alive with colour, feeling, action, and realism. This is a book to be shared by children and adults. Each page is a complete story. The reader (or readers) may spend hours discovering each area of Montréal that is visited in this little tourist's guide to the city. " 'M' is for marche or market" says one page. The detail is so complete in this picture, one can almost hear what is happening and is tempted to help oneself to a jar of jam or large orange pumpkin from the shelf. It is fun to share the discoveries each new page brings. This book is perfect for reading aloud, for children sharing the discovery with other children or with an adult. Children are being widely encouraged to adopt two official languages and this book makes it fun to learn French and compare the word to the English equivalent. A book for everyone.
Barbara Egerer Walker, Etobicoke P.L., Etobicoke, ON.
¹ Reviewed vol. Xl/2 March 1983, p.81.
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