CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2016
Alphabet or ABC books are usually connected with a preschool audience, but the contents of Transportation Now and Then are aimed at an older target group, one that already "knows" the letters of the alphabet and is on its way to independent reading. The alphabet then becomes just the book's "organizer" for presenting 26 relatively common modes of transportation that are arranged from "airplane" to "Zamboni".
Each form of transportation is treated in a single page that bears two photographs. The larger of the two, in full colour, presents the transportation method as we would experience it now while the second smaller black and white photo illustrates one of the method's earlier forms. Consequently, a modern trail bicycle is contrasted with an 1880s penny-farthing. Each photo is also accompanied by a brief paragraph of text found under a "Did you know?" heading.
At the top of the page and adjacent to each target letter, the book's creators pose a question to the reader. The question can either be a closed one, such as that associated with "elevator" ("What is the highest floor you have ridden up to in an elevator?"), or it can be open-ended as found on the "fire truck" page (Why do many people say firefighters are heroes?). Finally, every page has a short "I wonder" section that asks a question which, because it cannot be answered by the book's text, invites readers to seek outside sources. For example, the "subway" question is, "Why do only two Canadian cities - Montreal and Toronto - have subway systems?", while "quad" invites readers to ponder, "Why do farmers use quads?"
As with any thematic alphabet book, authors sometimes have to "stretch" a bit to find something to fit the theme. As a result. "navigation instruments" are N n's transportation example, "underwater equipment" completes U u, "walking shoes" serves W w while "x-country skiing" becomes X x's example.
The above small quibble aside, Transportation Now and Then is an excellent, albeit brief, introduction to different forms of transportation. Teachers of EAL/ESL may find its contents to be useful.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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