Z IS FOR ZEBRA by Judith Caseley


A Mosaic Menagerie
by , illustrated by
Email this review


This animal-focused picture book illustrates the alphabet with vibrantly colored mosaics of glass tile, pebbles, and other materials. 

Many abecedarian books use animal names to teach letters, so it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Caseley (The Kissing Diary, 2007, etc.) achieves that with beautifully constructed mosaics illustrating each letter and its corresponding animal. “E for Elephant,” for example, depicts a gray-tusked pachyderm against a richly colored background of blue sky and bright red, yellow, orange, and blue flowers, with lush greenery. The elephant’s trunk sprays alternating lines of blue-and-white and flower mosaic tiles in joyful profusion. Although the book mostly devotes one page to each letter, the elephant, appropriately enough, takes up a full two pages. As with all the pictures, a decorative border surrounds it—this one has alternating squares of pink and yellow. The text begins with a large mosaic “E,” festooned with shimmering tesserae; the whole entry reads: “E is for elephant, / biggest and best. / With big ears and a trunk, / it’s so hard to get dressed!” As throughout, the rhyme helps make the text memorable, and its silliness suits the mood of a children’s book. Although Caseley doesn’t include lowercase letters in the large entry headers, the text does depict them (“E is for elephant”). The ABCB rhymed quatrains usually describe a single letter, while others are spread across two: “Q is for quetzal, / who looks like a parrot. / R is for rabbit, / how it loves / a carrot!” Some vocabulary may be challenging for young children, such as “primate,” “foe,” or “nocturnal.” But more importantly, each page rewards long gazing with beautiful detail, such as malachitelike, striped green tiles of lily pads, or a little bird riding atop a hippo.

Gorgeous images that capture one’s attention, along with entertaining text.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9966422-9-3
Page count: 53pp
Publisher: Full Cycle Publications, Inc.
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: