Illustrations of a variety of outlandish and familiar animals accompany a poem featuring letters of the alphabet.
“I love you wide. I love you / high. I love you like the / Angels fly” opens this poem that covers all 26 letters, though they are sometimes hidden inside the stanzas. Higman (Mocha Marriages, 2016, etc.), a veteran author, uses creative words to represent each letter: “Cookie-crunch,” “Heaven-tall,” and “Velvety,” among them. The rhymes here take precedence and are well-cadenced throughout, with all the ways to show love, even when you have a Fight or don’t want to eat your peas, Please. Some of the rhymes and pictures involve well-known beasts: the book pairs “I love you like a cozy rug / I love you like a big / Bear hug” with a heartwarming scene of a brown bear clasping a cub. But several of the images by debut illustrator Rogers feature animals obscure enough (quokka, ibex, uakari, Ulysses butterfly) that adults will likely find themselves doing Internet searches for photographs of the real creatures to show their young readers. Thankfully, a listing in the back offers all the letter words to be found on each page, helping to explain that bird on the N page (nightingale), and those weird mammals on the M page (meerkats). While some of the choices will elicit giggles, others are less inspiring: the word I for the I page, U in place of “you” for the U page, and merry-go-Round for R, for example. The problem with hiding the letters inside the rhyming phrases and using words like ice cream on the M page is that the youngest readers, who are most attracted to alphabet books, are likely to be confused and will not find the mnemonics they need to learn the letters. Likewise, the pictures offer little help. Executed with colored pencils in pastel colors, the cheerful illustrations focus more on the letters and less on tying into the text. Best known for her Christian genre novels for adults, Higman mentions God and heaven here in her charming poem only sparingly but enough to appeal to devout readers. The message of love may make this a fun book for sharing with lap readers who don’t find the alphabet aspect too frustrating.
While this ABC book offers sweet rhymes, the volume’s hidden letters may confuse young readers.