The title says it all—kind of.
Twenty-six different animal characters each play an instrument; they are introduced one by one, with the final double-page spread bringing the whole orchestra together. A banner runs across the bottoms of the pages with three lines that name each creature and cite the action of the scene in both upper and lower cases. “N is for NEWTS making lots of NOISE! It’s also for nightingale and nest.” In the accompanying illustration, five gaily dressed newts sing, bang pots and blow a horn, while in the background, a top-hatted nightingale sings from its nest. Not all letters are able to achieve such thematic unity. For the tricky letters, Q is for quiet, quail, quilt and queen, and “X is for XANTHUS hummingbird playing the XYLOPHONE. It’s also for x-ray.” In these and other cases, the additional words often have nothing to do with either animals or music, but they do help with letter-recognition practice. The animals are outfitted in clothing, hats and glasses in a bright and offbeat style that mixes collage and paint. The endpapers, on which the animals form the alphabet letters, are perhaps the cleverest part of the book.
Preschoolers may not know all of the creatures (aardvark, kiwi, ibex), but they will have fun pointing out what’s happening and connecting letters with them. Isn’t that what alphabet books are supposed to do? (Picture book. 2-4)