ALPHA by Isabelle Arsenault


Age Range: 6 & up
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Themed alphabet books are a dime a dozen, but this distinguishes itself by illustrating the NATO phonetic alphabet, officially named the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet.

Each letter is a one-word code universally used by those who cannot afford to be misunderstood, such as firefighters, police, and the military: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. Each letter-code is given a double-page spread. The word appears on the verso in large, painted block capitals, and the image that illustrates it is on the recto. Many of the references and depictions are adult, even antique, in connotation. “Mike” is represented by a pair of boxing gloves (presumably for Mike Tyson), and the painting for “Oscar” is a woman in a fancy ball gown (Oscar de la Renta?). A black derby hat represents “Charlie” (Chaplin, one assumes); “Victor” appears opposite a gramophone, evidently standing for Victrola. The picture for “Sierra,” an aerial view of a mountain range, is visually confusing. The images are frequently witty, and their execution is painterly and accomplished, but if the intent is to help kids learn this phonetic alphabet, the choice of items for the illustrations seems too sophisticated.

For kids who may have heard the letters used in movies or on TV, learning this code alphabet could turn into a game; otherwise this is more an art book for adults than an alphabet book for children. (Picture book. 6 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7852-4
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2015


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