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An Edible Alphabet

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-timer Christensen gives a fresh look to a popular genre in this winning abecedarium. The format isn't anything out of the ordinary--each letter is assigned a different edible plant--but the quality of the illustrations and the range and scope of Christensen's subjects lift this well above the norm. Characters and settings are imaginatively multicultural, ranging from Norman Rockwell farms to rooftop gardens in the heart of the city, tropical islands, swamps and urban kitchens. Thoughtfully designed and masterfully executed, Christensen's wood engravings are enlivened by bright splashes of color--the purple of an eggplant, the red of berries or beads in a child's hair. Miniatures of the featured plant anchor the four corners of each page's intricate border. A glossary of edible plants explains the less familiar (Ipomea? Ulu? Xanthorhiza?) culinary delights. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-``A is for apple'' gathers fuller richness of meaning in this elegant, artistic book. The first page shows a woman picking apples and a man making cider with a hand press. One child is helping him while a younger one plays on the grass. A border of apple blossoms frames the picture; half of an apple is shown in each corner. In subsequent pictures, different ages and combinations of people of varied races and cultures appear; settings are rural or urban, indoors or out, in all seasons and kinds of weather. ``Ulu,'' the Hawaiian name for breadfruit, and ``Xanthorhiza,'' a yellow root from the Appalachian Mountains used for medicinal tea, represent the hard-to-match letters. There is a cautionary note about edible and inedible plants, as well as a glossary describing each plant in the book and how it is used for consumption. The illustrations are wood engravings to which watercolors have been added. A note explains this printing method, which was developed in the 1700s and allows for more detail than woodcuts. The effect is striking. An Edible Alphabet is somewhat reminiscent of Mary Azarian's A Farmer's Alphabet (Godine, 1981) in atmosphere and illustration, but Azarian's black-and-white woodcuts are more bulky, and her theme is rural life in Vermont. Both titles are beautiful as well as interesting.-Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME
Hazel Rochman
In handsome wood engravings full of gardens, people, and movement, Christensen presents an edible plant for each letter of the alphabet. She uses a range of places and cultures, moods and characters, each page a framed scene in black ink and bright watercolors. The picture for Apple shows a woman picking fruit from the tree, a man working a cider-press, and a child collecting the liquid. The setting for Corn is a farm with kids and their dog eating round a campfire. Figs are being grown on a city rooftop garden. A boy sits with a sprig of dill at a kitchen table. Most of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs are common plants; a few, such as Ipomea and Xanthorhiza, will be new to most kids. Christensen provides a list at the back with a brief note about each plant, where it grows and how it's eaten, and a tiny identifying woodcut. She also includes a note about the art and a warning that many species of wild plants may be poisonous. With an extraordinary sense of depth, the pictures celebrate our connection with food that grows on the land.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803714045
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.81 (w) x 8.29 (h) x 0.35 (d)

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