Animal alphabet books abound, so it takes something special to make one stand out; this one doesn’t have it.
First published in Switzerland, this American adaptation highlights each animal’s characteristics in a two-line, first-person rhyme that offers a clue to the identity of the animal depicted above it. “I have scales and a toothy smile. / Just don’t call me crocodile.” Below the rhyme is the animal’s identity: ALLIGATOR. Each page features one animal illustrated in brightly colored paints set against contrasting backgrounds. Textures resembling sponge-paintings add visual interest. Many of the creatures are familiar, but others are unusual, making the guessing-game aspect hard for preschoolers: C for chameleon; J for jaguar; N for numbat; Q for quetzal; R for raven. Unfortunately, two of the animals are imaginary, which disrupts the overall formulation. U is for unicorn and X for “xylophonius”: “Made-up creatures are so much fun. / Give it a try! Can you make one?” As the book lacks backmatter, the only key to identifying the animal is in the rhyme.
Pfister has a following, so adults who recognize his name will likely be drawn to the (hologram-free) artwork. Others may want to choose from among the more classic animal ABCs. (Alphabet book. 4-6)