Alphabet books used to be very utilitarian things, whose sole purpose was to teach children the alphabet. These days authors and illustrators are creating all kinds of alphabet books, and today I have one for you that is a real joy to look at and to explore.
Marjorie Blain Parker
Illustrated by Joseph Kelly
For ages 5 to 7
Kids Can Press, 2010, 978-1-55337-682-8
Many of us fancy that we know a fair number of names for groups of animals. We know that a group of fish is called a school, and a group of sheep is called a flock. What about a group of ants or a group of bears? Do you know what these are called?
In this amusing and very unique picture book, Marjorie Blain Parker looks at all kinds of group names using an alphabet book format. Many will not be familiar to readers, and all will be entertaining because the illustrator, Joseph Kelly, presents his animal groups in an unusual way.
On the A page we have “An army of Ants,” and sure enough we do see plenty of ants in the artwork. We also see an anteater typing on a laptop computer. He has a cup of coffee and a pile of doughnuts next to him. Not surprisingly the ants are showing a great deal of interest in the sugary doughnuts.
For the letter C we are introduced to “A bask of Crocodiles.” The crocodiles in the picture really are basking, lounging next to a pool wearing pool gear, sipping drinks with cocktail umbrellas in them, sporting sunglasses, and even applying lipstick!
Later on in the book, we learn that a group of hippos is called a bloat. The artwork shows some very large hippos peddling furiously on some exercise bikes. We can only assume that these overweight animals are doing their best to shed a few pounds.
Readers of all ages are sure to enjoy this very unusual alphabet book. The illustrator has created a fabulous animal-centric world full of creatures who are doing remarkable things. Readers will enjoy exploring the art, looking for characters from the other pages, and laughing at the ducks that appear in every illustration.