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ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book

ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book

3.5 11
by Alison Jay

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B is for boy . . . but in Alison Jay's ABC, B also stands for basket, beehive,and butterfly. Featuring a simple format and bright paintings, this acclaimed alphabet book is perfect for toddlers. Older readers are encouraged to look and look again as each spread reveals a new perspective on what has come before and intriguing hints of


B is for boy . . . but in Alison Jay's ABC, B also stands for basket, beehive,and butterfly. Featuring a simple format and bright paintings, this acclaimed alphabet book is perfect for toddlers. Older readers are encouraged to look and look again as each spread reveals a new perspective on what has come before and intriguing hints of what's still to come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Jay's Picture This... will recognize a few familiar encore performances and appreciate her deceptively simple approach to this visual alphabet book. Once again, Jay previews an element in each painting that will appear in the next, and her porcelain-like, finely etched lines suggest an antique canvas. The minimal text cites one item per letter (next to a capital and lower case "Aa" appear the words "a is for apple"), and most illustrations include other objects that begin with the same letter (the candy-red airplane from Picture This..., an ant), as well as an item beginning with the next (a balloon appears in the upper right-hand corner of the "Aa" illustration, to be featured in the "Bb" painting on the next page; cows graze in the lower left-hand picture of the "Bb" painting before one takes center stage for the next scene, as it jumps over a crescent moon). Animal images abound, most rendered in a primitive style that tweaks traditional proportion. In several instances, Jay frames her images inventively: a picture of an equestrian accompanying the phrase "h is for horse" is nestled inside of a horseshoe (the rider holds an ice cream cone, to be featured in the next illustration); and for "Kk," readers look through a "keyhole" to view the equestrian's bedroom, her cap on her bureau, a koala atop her dresser, a kangaroo on a chair). This volume will likely offer as much to folk art aficionados as to children in the targeted audience. Ages 1-4. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
There is more here than meets the eye in this clever and creative alphabet book. Anyone who enjoys a visual challenge will eagerly pore over the pages of handsome illustrations and gleefully point out the details the artist has so shrewdly included. Deceptively simple in appearance and exquisite in design, it is the perfect blending of artwork, and with minimum text. Each letter is represented by a large object such as cow for the letter "C," but the sharp eyed child will notice a car, a field of cabbage, chickens, and a cat within the pastoral scene. The very perceptive reader will find a dog, a hint for the next letter of the alphabet. The "I Spy" game is further heightened, as children begin to look for reoccurring characters. The explorer from the "E" page buys an ice cream on "I" and is seen examining a map on "L." A lady galloping on horseback on "H" is later seen on the back of a unicorn on "U." In the final scene the lady and man and the menagerie of animals encountered along the way are seen racing towards the zoo. The illustrations have a vintage crackled look, adding to the folk art style. Full of whimsy and surprise, this is a treasure of a book. 2005 (orig. 2003), Dutton, Ages 2 to 5.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-An inventive and beautifully illustrated book. Each page features a scene highlighting one object (apple, balloon, cow, etc.), the corresponding upper- and lowercase letter, and a simple declarative sentence ("a is for apple"). Most of the items will be familiar to young listeners. Each featured object is surrounded by several smaller things that begin with the same letter, as well as a tiny image of the key item on the following page. Thus, young readers can play "I Spy" and reinforce their understanding of the letter and its sound. The pictures add another dimension, telling an underlying story, as a woman bids farewell to a man who embarks on a journey that leads him to exotic settings where he encounters many of the featured objects. This element of fantasy is sure to provide smiles of recognition and delight. The final picture brings everyone and everything together in a nontraditional zoo. As in Jay's Picture This- (Dutton, 2000), the illustrations are captivating. The watercolor washes are done over backgrounds that simulate crazed porcelain, lending an old-fashioned feel to the paintings. The colors are easy on the eye, and the scenes are filled with marvelous detail, a clear sense of movement, and more than a touch of whimsy. A list of the items included appears at the end. More extensive than Bruno Munari's ABC (1960; Chronicle, 2003), this is a sure bet for youngsters who like to participate actively while learning their letters.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Many of the elements that appear in Jay's whimsically mysterious paintings-the oversized fruit, the winsome blue crescent moon, the elongated figures with plump midsections and attenuated limbs-reappear in this abecedarian. Each page has the appropriate letter in upper and lower case, and a simple phrase: "a is for apple / b is for balloon" and so on. But besides the named words, each page includes a number of words not in the text: "i is for ice cream" has an island and an iguana; "p is for panda" has said panda at a picnic with pears, pie, a peach, and so on. In addition, there is one item that belongs with the next letter, hinting at what's to come. All the extra words are listed at the back. In Jay's signature crackled-paint surface and limpid pure colors, she includes an artist girl and an explorer boy; they have enough to do that an alert child (or adult reader) can mess around with inventing a story once the letters become familiar. Very, very nice. (Picture book. 2-6)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range:
1 - 3 Years

Meet the Author

ALISON JAY is a graduate of the London College of Printing and is the acclaimed illustrator of many picture books, including The Cloud Spinner, written by Michael Catchpool, and A Gift for Mama, by Linda Ravin Lodding. Alison’s signature style is created using alkyd paint on thick cartridge paper, with a crackle varnish, giving an aged effect.

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ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter is 15-months old and she adores this book. Right now she mostly focuses on the big picture at the center of each page (apple, balloon, cow, etc.) but she's already beginning to show interest in the little side images. And though we're reading it almost every day, I'm not getting tired of it because the story told though the images is so lovely and complex. A wonderful book for a child to grow into!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Based upon the reviews of this book from others, I thought the book would be something special for my toddler grandchild to learn her ABC's. However, I found the pictures too "surreal" (with faded/muted colors) to hold her attention at all. Perhaps when she is 5 or older, the book will be of interest to her to figure out, but for now.... it stays in the drawer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter received this as a gift when she was around 2 years old, and was immediately fascinated with it. There is no written story, but the illustrations are at once so detailed and so simple that it works on an astonishing number of levels. First, my daughter liked just looking at the colorful pictures, then she liked identifying objects, then she enjoyed finding pairs of objects (nearly everything appears more than once, but never exactly the same way), and now she is enjoying finding objects whose names begin with a specific sound and the corresponding letter. We also encourage her to tell us what she thinks is happening in the pictures and it is amazing to hear her put the clues together into a narrative. I have bought this book for several other children now as well as a copy for her preschool (where I'm told it is a big hit).
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is the best book ever, that I personally have seen on abc. it is interesting not only for a child making his(her) first steps into ABC, but it is fun for a grown up who is usually participating anyway. There is a plot hidden, a very poetic love story with a wit opinion on women and men. you will not believe me now, may be, but you will find all that if you spend time with your child with that book (and you will, because it takes time to find all the words and all the connections). have fun!! I love this author!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 18 month old son enjoys looking at this book every day just as his dad and I do. You'll find something new on each page that you didn't notice the day before. It's almost like each picture is a puzzle. It's a fascinating book for the little ones and grown ups too. I've bought this book and have given it as gifts for our young nieces.