Learning the Alphabet and How to Count and Other Useful Things

Something I’m having to adjust to in my new job is not reading about picture books all the time. I still read about them some, but I’m not buying them anymore, and it’s different. Anne brings me picture books she thinks I’ll like sometimes (she’s always right), and lately I’ve been getting in the habit of checking out the new shelf once a week or so and grabbing a pile of books to read that look interesting. I discovered a couple books I really liked this week: Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout and One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray.

Backseat A-B-See is a bit of an update of Tana Hoban’s I Read Signs, which is fantastic and still works but also looks a bit dated. Lieshout gives us digital illustrations rather than photographs. The endpapers are a top-down view of a road (genius), and (further genius) she has an author’s note on the first page in a caution sign and a “WRONG WAY” sign blazing on the back endpaper. From there, we see a child and parent heading off in a car, finding signs that correspond to each letter of the alphabet, making this a concept book on more than one level. It teaches signs (the first things many children learn how to read) and the alphabet, and its bright, bold colors make it a good book for teaching colors as well. There’s some great vocabulary in here, too: “heliport,” “junction,” “merge.” For “Q,” Lieshout writes “quack” on a duck crossing sign. This is the kind of book you can see a child sitting through five million times. My only concern with it is the way the book is put together. Our copy was processed in July, and the stitching’s already coming apart. The pages also don’t nestle inside the book in a way that is pleasing and a little kinder to their fragile edges. This is less a concern for home use, but I do think libraries will find themselves repairing it.

One Two That’s My Shoe! by Alison Murray is a take on “One, Two Buckle My Shoe,”  making it another concept book–this one focused on counting and rhyme. In it, Murray reframes the rhyme to tell the story of a dog stealing a shoe from a little girl and running around with it. The illustrations have a 50s vibe, and I feel like the dog is a direct descendant of Harry the Dirty Dog, all white with black ears and mischief. The bold illustrations, the simple story, and the bouncy text make this one a great choice for storytime, too, even for smaller kids. This is a book I’d buy in multiple copies.

3 thoughts on “Learning the Alphabet and How to Count and Other Useful Things

  1. Anne buys great stuff, so there’s always something interesting coming in. Part of what I need to do is just get in the habit of paying attention.

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