A Pioneer Alphabet

A Pioneer Alphabet

by Mary Alice Downie
     
 
A is for Abigail and Anna, Zebediah’s two sisters. He is making them an alphabet book.

From B, which stands for bandalore, a forerunner of the yoyo, H for the hornbook that taught children to spell, and on through the pigeons that blackened the sky, to the uniform that Papa wore when he defended the king, right through to X for the eXhaustion of parents who

Overview

A is for Abigail and Anna, Zebediah’s two sisters. He is making them an alphabet book.

From B, which stands for bandalore, a forerunner of the yoyo, H for the hornbook that taught children to spell, and on through the pigeons that blackened the sky, to the uniform that Papa wore when he defended the king, right through to X for the eXhaustion of parents who are homesteading. This lovely romp through the seasons on a pioneer farm is full of fascinating information.

Artist Mary Jane Gerber has placed numerous items in each of her paintings and detailed borders, and there is a useful list of them for readers to find. Author Mary Alice Downie has included detailed background notes, making this a sweet introduction to our history.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Erika Clark
Our narrator, young Zebediah, writes the story of a pioneer's life to his sisters in the format of an alphabet book. The text is ideal for introducing a lesson on the United Empire Loyalists from Canada in the period after the American Revolution. It can also serve as a historic resource for teaching students the different vocabulary and labor of farmers, soldiers, and urban dwellers that U.S. students may be familiar with. To a pioneer child, the popular, colorful, and finger-snapping American toy would be called a bandalore. Thus, students will be able to compare and contrast the story to their personal experiences. For example, Zebediah recounts that "C is for cranberries. We gather them in the marsh. Mama makes jelly and sauce with them. D is for dyes that color our clothes. Abigail nearly fell in the tub. Now she has blue hands!" The author's sensory vocabulary helps students form vivid mental images of the family's chores and tasks necessary for survival. After reading the story, students can practice revisiting the text and drawing more global connections between the text and their individual lives. For example, modern readers will have other thoughts about cranberries and dye. But they will recognize the strong family values and the importance of working together demonstrated in the text. Reviewer: Erika Clark
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-After the American Revolution, the United Empire Loyalists (people from a variety of backgrounds who wanted to live under British rule) escaped to Canada, arriving with few possessions and struggling to survive in the harsh climate of the north. Downie, who lives in a town settled by the Loyalists in 1784, provides this information as well as her own experiences summering in an unheated wooden cabin in this area. The alphabet itself provides information about foods ("E is for eels that we catch in the river. Mama bakes them in pies. Ugh!"), education ("H is for Hornbook-") amusements ("B is for Bandalore-") and many other details regarding the daily existence of one family. An expanded glossary at the end provides more information about each area. The illustrations, done in acrylic on canvas and framed by attractive borders featuring scenes from the landscape on top and household objects on the sides, use muted tones and have a nostalgic feel appropriate to time and place. This could be an attractive title both for browsing and a useful teaching tool, as there are few other titles that address pioneer life in this region.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887769610
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
ABC Our Country Series
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Alice Downie was born in Illinois, but her Canadian parents returned home, and she grew up in Toronto. After graduating from university, she had the usual range of jobs for an English grad — steno pool at MacLean-Hunter, editorial assistant for a medical journal, publicity manager for the Canadian branch of Oxford University Press. After marriage to John Downie, she moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and wrote film, play, and book reviews. She and her family now live part of the year in a 125-year-old cottage near Kingston, Ontario.

Mary Jane Gerber is the illustrator of several books, including the bestselling Thanks for Thanksgiving. Born and raised in Mississauga, she went on to graduate from the Illustration program at Sheridan College. After working as a textbook designer she moved to Orangeville with her husband Ted. Since then they’ve been raising two children, a sheepdog, and various small rodents, while Mary Jane has continued to design, illustrate, paint, teach, and enjoy smalltown life.

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