cover image The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC

The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC

Jim Aylesworth. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021672-6

The valley depicted here lies deep in verdant Pennsylvania Dutch country; each letter of the alphabet begins a clever couplet that describes some aspect of life in a close-knit rural colony. Aylesworth's mellifluous rhymes introduce crafts such as iron-making and quilting (``Quilts are stitched at quilting bees''), as well as common farming chores such as chopping firewood and mowing hay. Vitale's debut offers an unusual and welcome illustrative departure--he has rendered his warm hues onto wood panels, allowing the natural grain to give each painting a rich texture. The spreads also feature homey borders filled with traditional motifs. Beginning concept books are rarely as multilayered as this winner, which, in addition to providing clear letter identification, offers a simple social studies lesson and a delightful slice of Americana. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)