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DIG DIG DIGGING ABC by Margaret Mayo


by Margaret Mayo ; illustrated by Alex Ayliffe

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62779-516-6
Publisher: Henry Holt

Kids seem to have an innate fascination with machinery, and this alphabet of vehicles will challenge them to name 26 and pair them with their corresponding letters of the alphabet.

In concept, this is nothing new, but it’s Ayliffe’s execution that makes this one stand out—but not necessarily in a great way. Intensely saturated colors bleed off the pages, overpowering the simple shapes that lack line definitions and featureless faces (just dots for eyes). From “Ambulance,” “Bulldozer,” and “Crane” to “Yacht” and “Zooming Rocket,” the text glossing each moving vehicle emphasizes activities or signature sounds and is typeset in ever larger fonts to lift the excitement. J is for “Jumbo Jet / Enormous jumbo jet / roar, roar, roaring. / Over fields and buildings, / up…upsoaring!” Exemplars that are out of the ordinary include “Narrow Boat” (revealed in the illustration to be a British canal boat), “Quad Bike” (which many American readers will recognize as an ATV), and “Velodrome Track Bike”; X stands for the “EXtra Big Wheels” of a monster truck. San-serif lower- and uppercases are highlighted in the upper corners. There are a few double-page spreads, but most letters have one page with no segues between them. Kids familiar with themed alphabet books and enraptured with toy vehicles will enjoy repeating the sound effects and guessing what vehicle comes next despite the misleading cover that hints that all of the machines dig.

Given the plethora of similar titles, rate this an O for overdone and opt for a better one, such as Ramon Olivera’s ABCs on Wheels (2016). (Picture book. 4-7)