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A IS FOR AMERICA by Devin Scillian


An American Alphabet

by Devin Scillian & illustrated by Pam Carroll

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-58536-015-5

With its bright, full-page trompe-l’oeil paintings, one cannot fault this rhymed abecedarium for earnestness. Each letter of the alphabet has its list in couplets, and each letter names places, persons, and things American—N is for Norman Rockwell, Native American, NASA—and the accompanying painting illustrates them all in an inventive if rather surreal diorama. A sidebar to each rhyme gives a bit more historical background. While it is not precisely disinformation, some of the facts offered are pretty offhand. For example, the name California comes from the Amazon Queen Califia, who presided over an island of gold; so to say, as the author does, that the name comes from a Spanish story about an island of gold is a little misleading. What is perhaps more troubling is the amount of product placement: Hershey bars, Oreos, Tootsie Rolls, Monopoly, and Holiday Inns are among the items listed, and lovingly delineated, under their proper letters. The images cheerfully combine what’s named without regard for historical time frame, but it is a bit unsettling to see, on the page for P, civil rights hero Rosa Parks with a box of popcorn in her lap, looking out a bus window where both Pike’s Peak and Plymouth rock can be seen. One might have more fun with Barbara Younger’s Purple Mountain Majesties (1998) for Fourth of July storytime. (Picture book. 5-8)