Friday, 21 March 2008

Miranda's Alphabet

Miranda’s Alphabet: Learning Letters with Pictures Miranda Harcourt & Stuart McKenzie, ill. Paul Densem, South Coast Press (82 View Road, Houghton Bay, Wellington, New Zealand), 2006, 58 pages, paperback, $19.95

This alphabet book is based on the interesting idea of matching the shape of each letter to a picture of an object whose name uses the sound of that letter. Thus capital A is an ant-hill, while small a is an apple. Paul Densem has produced bold and attractive cartoons which are integrated with colour photographs of Miranda Harcourt and two children interacting with each letter, capital and lower-case, across a double-page spread.

The two Ms are typical: “Magnificent Mountains!” marvels Miranda. “Mine are mounds,” murmurs Thomasin. Where a letter has more than one sound, both have been included, with circular cats for C and giant goldfish for G. What child will be able to resist the idea that “Big B looks like a bottom” when they see the cartoon of a baboon fitted neatly into the B?

Miranda’s Alphabet is easy to handle, with a clean, uncluttered design. Since its pages are light card, rather than paper, they will be able to cope with the constant handling they deserve. The alphabet is also available, separately, as a set of wall-cards at $24.95.

Trevor Agnew

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