The Alphabet Family by Eva Montanari

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The Alphabet Family by Eva Montanari

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: An abstract introduction to the alphabet that has plenty going for it, but that just misses out on being something to rave about. Eva Montanari's illustrations are excellent - it's well-worth a look for those alone.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 24 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Meadowside
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1845394059

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Mummy A wants to write a story, but she can't think what to write. She sees what her children (b, c, d and so on) are up to. Some are playing musical instruments, some are running races, and some are playing in the garden. With plenty of ideas to hand, Mummy A writes her story, and then tells it to all her children and Daddy Z.

The Alphabet Family immediately brings to mind Letterland, with its characters in the style of letters. This is more abstract than Letterland, and less focussed on being educational. The letters all get up to activities that match their shapes - b plays a b-shaped piano, f rides an f-shaped crocodile - but, unlike Letterland, their activities don't teach the basics of spelling. In many ways, this makes it suitable for children not yet learning the letters for themselves - they can take the story at face value. However, older children who can read and already recognise the letters will get the most from it.

The abstract plot won't click with everyone, but Eva Montanari's excellent illustrations draw you in wonderfully and keep things ticking over well into the alphabet. The p- and q-shaped food, for example, are great to pore over. There's an artistic classiness to the pictures that parents in particular will love, but that children will more than appreciate too. It's all a little different to the standard fare in picture books, but this is to its credit.

Things start to lose their way at R. The last letters are all just in a line, without any activities or matching shapes. It's a let down, and feels like Montanari just ran out of pages. There's plot after this that does tie everything up nicely, but the fundamental point of the book is letters doing letter-shaped things. It doesn't ruin the book, but it does prevent it from being a book to rave about. It's still well worth a look, and I'll certainly keep an eye out for any future books from Eva Montanari.

Thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Kipper's A To Z by Mick Inkpen is an excellent alphabet book for those just learning to read. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly is aimed at older readers, but is a must for any bookshelf.

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