________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


A Brazilian Alphabet for the Younger Reader.

P.K. Page.
Erin, ON: The Porcupine's Quill, 2005.
64 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 0-88984-265-5.

Subject Headings:
Brazil-Juvenile literature.
Portuguese language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.

Kindergarten and up / Ages 5 and up.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4


A is for ARARA - you call it macaw.

It has blue and gold feathers, and talks like your Pa.

B is BANANA. You use the same word.

But it grows in our gardens. Is that not absurd?


A Brazilian Alphabet for the Younger Reader is a very sophisticated and beautifully designed book with poetry by P. K. Page, one of Canada's best known writers. Page is best known for her adult works and was recognized with the Governor General's Award for poetry in 1954. She is also a Companion of the Order of Canada.

internal art

     Here, she took up the challenge of writing couplets for 26 words from Brazil for the alphabet. The result is an alphabet book with a twist as English as well as Portugese words are included, and the curious child will find lots to enjoy. She has used words which she remembered from her years in Brazil when her husband was the Canadian ambassador stationed in Rio de Janeiro. The words which she collected became refrains in her Brazilian Journal (Lester & Orpen, Dennys, 1987). The interesting thing is that we discover all sorts of new knowledge about Brazil as we travel through the alphabet - including the fact that W does not exist in their alphabet! The couplets themselves are very amusing and read with bounce and vigour!

     The book is printed on beautiful creamy coloured laid paper with illustrations which face each letter. They look like old fashioned engravings, and they are set on a light butter yellow background. Each letter of the alphabet is set off with a lacy decorated initial which looks like Fraktur, and some of the letterforms are so intricate they are confusing and would be hard for a new reader to decipher. The whole effect looks old-fashioned but has a very charming feel. This book would be of interest to adult book collectors and admirers of typography and fine book design. Teachers would find it fun to use in conjunction with themes of South America and creative writing ideas.


Lorraine Douglas is a writer and artist living in Sidney, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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