________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 14 . . . . December 9, 2016


An African Alphabet.

Eric Walters. Illustrated by Sue Todd.
Victoria, BC: Orca, March, 2017.
28 pp., board book., pdf & epub, $9.95 (bb.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1070-9 (bb.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1071-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1072-3 (epub).

Preschool / Birth-age 4.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Cc is for Cheetah

An African Alphabet is at once a typical introductory alphabet board book, and, at the same time, it is nontraditional. Like most alphabet books, it provides the letters of the alphabet in both their upper and lower case forms and then uses that letter as an initial letter in a simple, brief sentence, in this case one that follows the "[ ] is for [ ]" form seen in the above excerpt. Alphabet books, in addition to familiarizing toddlers with the alphabet, contribute to youngsters' vocabulary growth via the examples used to illustrate each letter. Frequently, these word and visual examples are things that might typically be found in the listeners' environment. However, it is unlikely that the young viewers of An African Alphabet will have had personal experience with any (or many) of the 26 birds and mammals found within its pages. From Aa's Aardvark to Zz's Zebra, Walters introduces youngsters to a wide variety of African wildlife, and his range of animals extends from the possibly more familiar, such as elephants, giraffes and hippos, to the lesser known, like the mandrill, pangolin and topi. Those adult readers who may wonder why an author living in Guelph, ON, has written a book focussed on Africa need to recall Walters' connection with that continent through his charitable work with orphans in Kenya.

      A true highlight of the book are the illustrations rendered by Sue Todd who has chosen linoleum carving as her illustration medium. A blurb on the book's back cover describes linoleum carving as "an ancient printmaking technique similar to woodcut…". Her full-colour illustrations are replete with life and action, and, for example, one can "see" the okapi's long tongue tearing leaves from a tree overhead or an impala bounding over a savannah. Though each letter is treated on a single page, there are occasions when Todd links two letters and creates a double-page spread, such as when a cheetah can be seen stalking a pair of grazing dik-diks.

      An African Alphabet is an excellent alphabet book and merits both home purchase and acquisition by libraries serving its intended young audience.

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.
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