Martin Jarrie, Illustrator . Sterling $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4027-1619-5

French artist Jarrie brings a fresh perspective to this engaging alphabet book, which doubles as an illustrated geographical, historical and cultural tour of the United States. His images form a comprehensive catalogue of Americana: "B is for baseball/ C is for cars/ D is for the Declaration of Independence." Even the art style is uniquely American: flattened perspectives applied with earth-toned paints layered on wood emulate the folk-art style of Colonial times. A few of the examples beg for explanation, either because their particular connection to America is unclear ("A is for alligator"; "O is for oranges"), or because the reference may be obscure ("X is for X-roads"), but Jarrie provides a four-page addendum in which he offers additional factual background. (He explains that "The American alligator is the largest reptile in North America" and that "X-roads" refers to the crossroads of highways 49 and 61 in the Mississippi Delta.) Jarrie clothes his characteristically elongated human figures in regional and period garb: the jockeys at the Kentucky Derby (K) wear their uniforms while a spectator dons a fancy dress and hat; a Native American wears blue jeans and a headband as he paints Navajo (N) artwork (the appendix discusses the Navajos' crucial role as code talkers during WWII); and folks travel by covered wagon in the Smoky Mountains (S) decked out in fur hats. With hallmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Liberty Bell and the Grand Canyon (plus a host of human contributors), this book offers a dignified representation of the country, A to Z. Ages 3-8 (May)

Reviewed on: 04/25/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Children's
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