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Alphabeasts - Sharon Werner

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Hardcover: 56 pages / Publisher: Blue Apple Books; 1 edition / Published: 1 Sep 2009 / Language: English

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      03.07.2013 21:24
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      Excellent resource for learning the alphabet - suitable for all ages.

      I recently purchased Alphasaurs and Other Prehistoric Types and was so impressed I immediately ordered both of the author/ illustrators earlier books Bugs by the Numbers, and this one, Alphabeasties. All of these feature some wonderful illustrations made up entirely of numbers or letters. In this book each letter of the alphabet is represented by an animal created only with different typefaces. The alligator is made completely out of the letter a in upper and lower cases, the bat from the letter B etc...

      Alphasaurs also included information on each type of dinosaur. This book does not do the same with animals. Instead each page will have more pictures and statements about the featured letter. For instance, L and l can form a ladder, another picture made of letters. A letter L from cursive or joined handwriting can be a lasso. Other L's according to the book are lazy, with curves rather than straight angles. Finally a boy is drawn with legs made from L's. All of this is illustrated alongside a large lion made of the letter L who stands on a ledge made of the word wedge repeated over and over.

      This book isn't quite as popular with my sons as the Alphasaurs book, and I suspect this is because children really don't find reading about letters quite as much as fun as reading about dinosaurs. The pictures are outstanding though. We especially liked the penguins, the viper and the alligator. The children also enjoyed the flaps to lift and peek under and the cut out letter Z at the end of the book. I don't feel that this has much to offer a child once they have already learned their alphabet, but until they have firmly memorised both letter names and sounds, I do feel that this is an excellent resource.

      I especially like this book because each page completely immerse the child in the given letter. They learn to associate the shape of the letter with the shape of the main animal, and often other pictures. the letter and sound are also firmly linked as P becomes the beginning sound for penguin, pirate , peapod and pig. It shows children that the same letter may be presented in many different type faces or styles. Some P's are plump the book tells us alongside two rather thick examples. A very curved joined letter P is said to be pretty while a very stylised gothic style P is described as pretentious and difficult to read. Some of the text is really over stylised for young readers, but this does make the point that there are all sorts of different ways to make the same letter. No matter how stylised the text though for various illustrations, the name for each animal will be printed in a very clear easy to read, thick font.

      I have bought a vast number of alphabet books because my youngest still has trouble with a few letters, especially those which can be reversed like 'b' and 'd'. As I home educate, he will not be going to school in the fall, but his education will become a bit more formal, and I do want him to learn his alphabet before the fall comes. I had quite a difficult time with letter reversal even as a much older child myself, and was unable to tell left from right quickly until my teens. My youngest seems to have some of the same issues, and I hope to make learning as easy as possible for him. I do remember a teacher sitting down with me when I was almost 9 and doing page after page of letters drawn into pictures which really helped. I was able to read very well simply because I guessed by the rest of the word, but my writing could be pretty bad. The pictures helped immensely, and I have since come to the conclusion that different children just learn in different ways. If one things doesn't work, we need to keep going until find something that does.

      I value this book because it offers something different to the average ABC book. I think the more different ways we can offer a child to learn the necessary skills, the better their chances of success. the highly visual nature of this book will appeal to many children and the repetition of letters I believe will help them make a connection between letter shapes, sounds and names.

      I also like the fact that this book is not too juvenile. At nearly 5 my son wants nothing to do with many very babyish ABC books, and I don't blame him. I have known boys in their teens who did know their letters yet though, and many of the books available would be outright degrading to them. My husband still very clearly remembers a well meaning teacher trying to teach his class their ABC's with Sesame Street at age 15. This being Belfast, it didn't go over very well. Of course any teen feels awkward learning their ABC's but at least a book like this does have pictures that can appeal to an older reader. This is quite suitable for a child of nursery age, but it doesn't look like a typical nursery school book, and so I feel would be more appropriate for older children needing help with letters as well.

      I can't say that this one of the most entertaining alphabet books we own. It has beautiful pictures and is pleasant, but I do own others that are more fun. However, I feel that the educational value of this book is exceptionally high, and as such I am giving it top marks.

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