CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 24. . . .March 3, 2017
F is for Fiddlehead: A New Brunswick Alphabet.
Marilyn Lohnes. Illustrated by Susan Tooke.
Calgary, AB: AV²/Weigl Educational Publishers (Distributed by Saunders Book Co.), 2007/2017.
40 pp., hardcover, $24.96.
New Brunswick-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11.
Review by Cate Carlyle.
A tastier G could never be found
where candies and chocolate are sold by the pound.
All sorts of treats you are certain to see
if you by chance visit Ganong factory.
Along the Saint John River King’s Landing hides.
To the north Village Acadien can be spied.
The H is for Historic Village-come see!
Within them you’ll relive our own history.
I is for Irving, and for Irving oil.
He started right here, and to us stayed loyal.
He started an empire from a single oil tank.
For many fine goods we have him to thank.
Marilyn Lohnes has penned an alphabet book about her home province of New Brunswick, highlighting its history, landscape, culture and people. Each page and letter of the alphabet contains a rhyme as well as a factual paragraph or two with information on the topic. The Acadien culture, fiddleheads, jellyfish, William O’Ree, tides and zinc are all featured alongside a large rendering of the appropriate letter in both upper and lower case. The “Coast to Capital” section in the back of the book features 17 comprehension questions and answers about New Brunswick which would be completed based on the reading. F is for Fiddlehead is also part of the AV² Fiction Readalong series and includes a code to access an enhanced version online.
An award-winning illustrator and fellow Maritimer, Tooke brings life to Lohnes’ often convoluted rhymes. Tooke’s portraiture and picturesque landscapes capture the beauty of the province and its people; each painted illustration is a work of art in itself.
While the “Coast to Capital” factual questions, enhanced online version and lengthy informative sidebars for each topic are a positive addition for use in the classroom, the vocabulary and comprehension level of this book seem out of sync with the alphabet book genre. For example, students able to comprehend that the letter X comes from “Spem Reduxit” (the Latin motto originating from the time of the Loyalist refugees) might avoid reading an alphabet book. Although the intended audience’s age group is problematic, Tooke’s illustrations and the sentimentality of some of the topics make it an ideal choice for those purchasing a gift or Maritime souvenir. For teachers and students who can see past the alphabet book designation, F is for Fiddlehead would complement junior social studies classes.
Cate Carlyle, a former elementary teacher, currently resides in Halifax, NS, where she is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University.
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