Children with names from A to Z star in their own short stories in this reader for young children.
In one-page narratives, author Condi (Counting on You, 2012, etc.) tells the stories of a racially and ethnically diverse group of children—mostly little girls but a few boys, too—whose names and identifying characteristic represent one letter of the alphabet: “Baker Beth,” “Exercising Emma,” “Juggling Jill,” “Vacationing Victor,” etc. Each story includes an illustration of the fictional child. (Done in colored pencil, these one-page drawings are unpolished but charming.) The repetitive format (“Dancing Debbie dances everywhere. Dancing Debbie dances in her house. Dancing Debbie dances in the bathtub,” etc.) becomes a bit wearisome when read out loud. Still, the storylines are engaging and creative: officious “Rules Renee” learns that “sometimes people break the rules because they do not know them,” and “talking Tina,” who talks in her sleep, in the bathtub, and even when she eats, learns to listen. The author might reconsider, too, a few names that require a pronunciation guide. Is “Una” in “Umbrella Una” pronounced with a long or short “u”? Children may not know that “Xia” in “X-ray Xia” can be pronounced “Zee-a” or “Sha,” and a “Yodeling Yolanda” would make more sense than the author’s choice: “Yodeling Yvonne.”
Judicious editing and visual polish would significantly improve this potentially appealing alphabet-inspired reader.