The husband-and-wife Ransomes (Satchel Paige) skillfully fashion a blue-ribbon ABC book that combines bright, folksy oil paintings and lilting riddle-poems. Alongside each painting, a rhyming verse describes an object beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet. For example, for the letter "P," the words "One part sugar, two parts spice/ Baked inside each sweet slice/ Seasoned with love, sprinkled with care/ Fresh-baked fragrance fills the air" are paired with a mouthwatering portrait of a lattice-topped pie. Throughout, a colorful quilted square depicting the appropriate alphabet letter appears alongside each verse, and the artist clearly showcases the riddle's answer in his work. A list of answers appears on the final page, too (readers may be surprised by the answer to the "X" riddle). Much of the sunny, country-inspired artwork is as crisp and fresh looking as clean laundry flapping on the clothesline. Several compositions capture the vibrant, pungent oranges, reds and yellows of autumn, including a scene of a glowing family of jack-o'-lanterns and a nighttime parade of trick-or-treaters that memorably illuminate the "J" page. The artist also adds dashes of humor, as when the text for "H" describes "Rodeo rider or out on the plain/ Home again on his own terrain," and the artwork pictures not a bucking stallion but a rocking horse. Ages 2-6. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Just when you think ideas for alphabet books have been exhausted, along comes a fresh approach. This beautifully illustrated book provides paintings and text that can be used to stretch any child's vocabulary and appreciation for everyday objects. Approaching the alphabet as if it were a quilt, each letter includes four short rhyming lines of poetry, which enhance the illustrations. The focus is on the natural world and everyday objects in a child's world¾a chance to look at ordinary objects from, perhaps, a different viewpoint. The object that is tied to each letter is not always so obvious. This unusual approach lends itself to this book being read and extended over and over, and of course, becoming a favorite. 2001, Holiday House, $17.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Vibrantly illustrated, this alphabet poem book is a feast for the eyes. Bold folk-art paintings explore country life from A to Z. The opening, cheerful quilted endpaper states: "Each letter has a poem. Every poem is a clue. The answers are in back." Each letter is framed by a quilting square and accompanies the verse and the corresponding artwork, which allows readers to guess the intended word. Some spreads are particularly striking, such as a still life of apples for A, glowing jack-o'-lanterns for J, drifting leaves for L, and a swooping owl for O. Others are not as successful; for K, the painting of the kettle is dark and muddy. Other items include a birdhouse, a hobbyhorse, Raggedy Ann dolls, and a rooster. The poems are quite lovely, but the sophisticated vocabulary will preclude independent reading by beginners. Like all alphabet books, there is a stretch for some letters. An X on a cross-stitch embroidery, sunny yellow woods for Y, and zigzag for Z are not as concrete as other examples. Perfect for one-on-one sharing, this delightful book is full of bright visual and verbal images.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville Public Schools, Parlin, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Rich illustrations and a rhyming text create a puzzle for each letter of the alphabet, inviting a young reader to guess what word the letter might represent. Warm-hearted and generous-spirited paintings provide visual answers. The answers are also found in a key at the end. Objects as American as Apples and Pie are utilized and the theme of Quilts sews it all together. A crazy-quilt pattern decorates the endpapers, each uppercase letter of the alphabet is framed as in the square of a quilt, and many of the illustrations are framed as well. With few exceptions, the objects are tangible, and within the experience of pre-schoolers. The few intangibles (Night, Yellow) are unexpected and therefore more difficult to guess. The oversized format and lush illustrations are strongly appealing; color in all of the paintings is rich and saturated. Painterly brush strokes add depth and elegance to the folksy style. Excellent book design features each letter and text in a way that is easy to see without interfering with the illustrations. The weakest element is the rhyming text. Although the clues are generally good, the rhymes are weakened by cliche. At worst, they suggest advertising copy, as for Apples: "Nature's handpicked treat / Wholesome goodness to the core." Some are simply confusing, as the tea Kettle "Captures the cold under its lid / And warms you through and through." Nonetheless, the graphic appeal is so strong that youngsters in groups or on their own should be drawn to the pictures and to guessing the names of the objects. (Picture book. 3-6)