Caribbean islands sparkle in the sun in this exuberant, luxuriantly illustrated abecedary. Alphabetically ordered vocabulary presented at the bottom of each page (``airport, arrivals, airplane, agouti'') prompt the reader to explore bustling scenes; like the words, some of the depicted activities are familiar (kite flying), some are not (limbo dancing). Unusual terms (hibiscus, Junkanoo) are explained in a pictorial glossary at the back of the book. The chosen words reflect the importance of nature; fruit, animals and plants predominate. Groupings of words help with sound recognition and issue implicit invitations to create sentences and even stories. Lessac's ( Caribbean Carnival ) illuminates the naive freshness of her childlike gouaches with an intense palette. Each picture has its own little narrative on this celebratory island tour--fun, fluid and imaginative. Ages 4-up. (May)
- Beverly Kobrin
Evocative paintings, one per letter, capture the Caribbean life and experiences that make up everyday island life. Suggest youngsters (alone or with a younger primary grader) paint alphabetical arrays of scenes for their state, city, home, school or room alphabets similar to Ms. Lessac's.
- Marilyn Courtot
The words are presented alphabetically at the bottom of each page and then readers can search the layout to find the named items. Many of the words are familiar (kite flying), some are not (limbo dancing) and those that children are unlikely to encounter (hibiscus, Junkanoo) are explained at the back of the book. The selected words highlight the animals, foods and activities that are characteristic of the Caribbean. A zesty portrait of the islands that FranT Lessac knows and loves so well.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-A lively, colorful alphabet book. Most of the words will be familiar to U.S. readers; but some, such as agouti, dasheen, Junkanoo, queen-conch, and Rastafarian refer to natural features or cultural elements of the Caribbean region. Illustrations are of typical island scenes, and Lessac cleverly incorporates decorative motifs in the hand-drawn uppercase letters. A glossary defines some of the more unfamiliar terms. Unfortunately the flat, primitive pictures have a certain sameness that, by the end, seems monotonous. Too often, the people look alike. While showing the rich natural beauty of the region, Lessac does not show much ethnic or cultural diversity. No people of East Indian origin appear on the pages; whites are pictured primarily as tourists. Children will enjoy browsing through this book, but they should also be exposed to titles that offer a more complex portrait of life in the Caribbean.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Exuberant gouache paintings in tropical colors and naive style celebrate Caribbean culture. For each letter of the alphabet, there's a full-page detailed scene and three or four words in clear type: For example, A is for airport, arrivals, airplane, agouti. The pages are handsomely designed, both stylized and playful; each alphabet letter is also a frame for a miniature picture, and there's a visual glossary at the back for unfamiliar words. The holiday carnival scene is dominant, but if T is for tourists, there's also U" for university, and "R" is for rainbow, Rastafarians, reggae, radio. On each page, kids will identify things they know and also find something new and exciting.