________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 37 . . . . June 2, 2017


Atlantic Animal ABC.

Angela Doak.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2017.
26 pp., board book, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-77108-463-5.

Subject Headings:
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.
Animals-Atlantic provinces-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 1-5.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4


This past publishing year has seen the arrival of a number of excellent board books, and joining them is Angela Doak's Atlantic Animal ABC. And don't let the title fool you – this is a book for all of Canada as many of the animals, such as bullfrogs, eagles, foxes, kingfishers, martens, porcupines, raccoons and white-tailed deer, are definitely found in other parts of the country. And even the creatures that are salt-water connected, puffins, dolphins, crabs, whales, jelly fish, lobsters, quahogs, urchins and swordfish, still fulfill a role for those who don't live in the Atlantic provinces as one of the values of a board book's content is that it builds vocabulary.

      In terms of format, each letter of the alphabet appears on a single page and is presented in both its upper and lower case forms. With nine exceptions, the pages' text is limited to a single word, that being the name of the animal that Doak has selected to represent the letter. In three cases (Green Crab for Cc, Bald Eagle for Ee and Belted Kingfisher for Kk), Doak has been a bit more descriptive than she likely needed to be, given her intended very young audience, and just Crab, Eagle and Kingfisher would have probably sufficed.

      In themed alphabet books, the letters Q, X and Z often present problems for authors in finding something thematically appropriate to represent them, but Doak handled two of these letters with ease, Quahog and Zooplankton. However, with Xx, she had to resort to Xiphias Gladius (which sounds like someone that you would expect to find fighting in the Roman Colosseum), the Latin name of the Swordfish. The fauna of the Atlantic also fell short when it came to finding animals for Aa, Ww and Yy, and Doak had to use an adjective, rather than a noun, to represent the letter (Atlantic Puffin, White-Tailed Deer [Whale had been used for Hh Humpback Whale] and Yellow-Spotted Salamander). Ii also was reduced to Insects, with the illustration showing two types of butterflies, a bee, wasp and ladybug.

      But speaking of illustrations, Doak's collages are a highlight. A note on the book's back cover explains that "Angela Doak is a collage artist and photographer. All of her work is done first as collage, made up of fabric, candy and gum wrappers, misprints, junk mail, and just about anything else that fits the image she is making at the time." Set against a white backdrop, the detailed, colourful illustrations express each animal's essence. Readers will almost be able to feel the stiffness of the porcupine's quills or the warm softness of the doe sheltering her fawn. Doak captures the timidity of the vole, the tranquility of the bullfrog and the wariness of the fox. Some of the collages hint at a story in the making as the swimming otter twists upwards to catch a fish or the trout leaps into the air to snatch an unsuspecting fly.

      Atlantic Animal ABC, an excellent home purchase, is a must-buy for libraries serving this age group.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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