________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 16 . . . . March 30, 2007

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The English Alphabet.

Monica Heil (Director). Monica Heil & Kevin Hughes-Heil (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2003.
14 min., 3 sec., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 0103 283.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 3-5.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***½ /4

Designed to teach help young children to learn their ABC's, The English Alphabet starts with a recitation of the alphabet as 26 capital letters march across the screen. Since "Z" is pronounced the English/Canadian way) the narrator is able to end with a satisfying (nearly) rhyming sentence "That's the English Alphabet!"

     Each of the 26 letters is presented by way of a 30 second movie, exactly the right length of time to hang on to a three-year-old’s attention span. The images depicted are often of animals (African animals are well represented: "G" for giraffe, "L" for lion, 'O" for ostrich "P" for the African penguin and "Z" for the zebra (again, pronounced in the English fashion with a short "e" sound). Other more familiar animals turn up in lively film sequences, as do words such as queen, flower, summer, rain, taxi and village (each word entirely in upper case)  The filmmaker's originality runs out only when she gets to "X" (represented by that old standby, the xylophone).

     The film's setting is decidedly British, as the accents of the narrator (and characters appearing in the clips) make clear; however, this feature is not likely to work as a disadvantage. Images appear in brilliant colour and include action to hold the interest of young viewers. In terms of photography, narration, length, The English Alphabet is a winner, one which is likely to be asked for and watched many times over by the four and under crowd.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

 

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

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