Tuesday, June 24, 2008
One More Alphabet Book
Okay, a week or so ago I said I was going to review some alphabet books and then stopped at two. Not much of a list, so here’s another one: M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet. Another one from Sleeping Bear Press in Chelsea, Michigan. Apparently they have plans for one from each province (and territory perhaps?). If, like me, you’re wondering why an American publisher is so keen on Canadian content here’s some insight from the June 2008 issue of Quill and Quire: “…publisher Heather Hughes grew up in PEI and also lived in Edmonton before settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
First, the Q, X and Z test:
Q is for Quebec
X marks the spot (where the Last Spike was driven)
Z is for zipper
I like how the author has handled the Z, which was actually not designed by a Canadian:
Z stands for Zipper, which everyone knows
is very important in tents and in clothes
A U.S. inventor had a zipperish notion
but it took a Canadian to get the zipper in motion.
In the notes that accompany this page, he adds more information. (The zipper was invented by an American, but it was perfected and patented by Canadian Gideon Sundback.)
The Canadiana covered in this title is broad indeed: Anne of Green Gables, Kim Campbell, the Dionne quints, Eh, northern lights, Ojibwa, Stampede, Underground Railway, etc. It’s a cursory look at the country, of course, but what can one do with only 52 entries. (Each entry has a main entry – the rhyming text – and then another entry for that letter. For example, U covers both Underground Railway and Ukranians.)
This title is written by Mike Ulmer and beautifully illustrated by Melanie Rose. Ulmer, who is the sport’s columnist at the Toronto Star, has also written a few other alphabet books, including J is for Jumpshot: A Basketball Alphabet and H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet. Rose has been the illustrator for a number of Sleeping Bear titles and it's clear why -- her illustrations support the text well and, in particular, she captures the essence of people well. A particular favourite is the joy on the gold seeker's (K is for Klondike) face as well as the two children playing in a pile of ruby red maple leaves (M is for maple.) This last image is used on the cover.
Here’s a review from Canadian Materials and here's a teacher's guide.