When Commander Ahab Flannery goes off to sea, he says goodbye to his 26 children in alphabetical order. (Everyone has a name, by the way, except for Ahab's ``missus.'') This book, told in rhyme, is slight. For older readers, there isn't much of a story, merely a listing of names. For younger readers, there's no strong concept here. Instead of having the letters connected to identifiable objects, the initial letters are color-coordinated to each child's dress, in an attempt to match names and children. But readers could easily miss this feature were it not noted on the flap copy. The art is appealing and lively, but as an ABC primer this doesn't work. (37)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2 Just when you think there can't possibly be another way to do an alphabet book, along comes a charmer like this one. In the crowded estate of Commander Ahab Flannery on Flannery Row live the Commander (who travels a lot), his missus and ``twenty-six heirs to his name!'' ``It took far too long to untangle the throng /each time Ahab was called out to sea, /so when saying good-byes now they alphabetize, /arranging themselves A to Z: /First Ahab and Blanche, . . .'' and so on in lilting, unforced rhyme through charming old-fashioned names to ``Xavier, and Yancy, and finally Zack.'' The very simple watercolor and pencil illustrations of mid 19th-Century New England (each framed with lanyard) extend the story with humorous details: 13 milk cans are lined up in front of the house, coats and boots are arranged alphabetically, toddler Elizabeth is in trouble throughout, and the missus (poor thing) goes from fresh to frazzled. A necessary purchase? Well, maybe not, but it would be a shame to miss it. The only possible shortcoming is that the delicate-hued, detailed illustrations, although appropriate for the tale, make it hard to use at story time. Virginia Opocensky, Lincoln City Libs . , Nebr.