CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 16 . . . . April 15, 2005
Those familiar with the themed alphabet books produced by Sleeping Bear Press, such as Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet or H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet, will recognize the familiar format of C is for Chinook which incorporates illustrations and a two part text. As shown in the excerpt above, each letter is represented via a four line poem, and then the content of that poem is expanded upon in one or more paragraphs of sidebar expository text. As well, this text can go beyond the poem’s focus and include other letter related content. For example, W’s poem is about the Alberta’s provincial flower, the Wild Rose, and the first paragraph of the expository text does deal with the flower. However, the second paragraph speaks to wheat and other grains while the focus of the third paragraph is Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada’s largest national park.
the earlier books, each pair of facing pages is devoted to a single
letter of the alphabet, or each page in a pair of facing pages is
given over to a single letter. Not an alphabet book in the traditional
sense of the book's having as its primary purpose the teaching of
the letters of the alphabet to preschoolers, the work does, nevertheless,
show each letter in its upper and lower case forms. As the book's
subtitle, An Alberta Alphabet, indicates, the volume's text
and illustrations focus on the province of Alberta, including aspects
of Alberta’s history (Anthony Hendy, Emily Murphy and the rest
of Alberta’s Famous Five, dinosaurs), the province’s animals
(Bighorn sheep, Great horned owl), places (Calgary’s Heritage
Park, the Columbia ice fields, Lake Louise, Vegreville’s Pysanka),
events (Edmonton’s Klondike Days, Calgary’s Stampede).
And, yes, the West Edmonton Mall is mentioned as are the Oilers, but
not the Flames. Most of the Alberta examples utilized for the letters
are quite obvious, such a “Oil” for the letter O or Hoodoos
for H, but occasionally author Welykochy has had to stretch a bit,
and so “N is for First Nations,” “Quartzite”
is used for that difficult Q, and the historic Bar U Ranch “covers”
U. The letters X, Y and Z are always troublesome in themed alphabet
books, but Welykochy solves them with railway crossings linked to
immigrants brought by train; the Calgary area’s Young Canadians
and the Calgary Zoo. Readers will also learn that Alberta has no need
of a Pied Piper as, in part, “R is for ratless Alberta.”
Welykochy’s brief but informative text will undoubtedly cause
some readers to seek out more detailed information in other sources.
For those desirous to test how much they learned about Alberta by
reading C is for Chinook, the book’s closing pages provide
a 24 question quiz (with an answer key).
While the picture book format of C is for Chinook may cause the book to be erroneously assigned to the children's section of libraries, this sophisticated picture book will appeal to teens and adults as well as to students in the mid to later elementary grades.
Dave Jenkinson, a one time Albertan, teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.