cover image Scholastic's ABC Animals

Scholastic's ABC Animals

Grace Maccarone, David M. McPhail. Scholastic, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-40715-1

For each letter of the alphabet, a host of animals familiar and exotic (, and a variety of inanimate objects as well), are integrated into a single composition. Readers can check their identification skills against a list provided at the end (although the compiler seems to have overlooked the ant that, in the opening painting, is nose-to-nose with an armadillo). Rendered in McPhail's characteristic ink line and gentle watercolor wash, this is an artistically fine, aesthetically pleasing work. It is not, however, a particularly original or inventive vehicle for introducing and exploring the alphabet, either in its overall concept or in the artist's choice of detail. Though some paintings display a quiet humor, many others have a melancholic tinge, and on the whole this is a rather controlled, subdued alphabet. Longtime fans may miss the animation and unbounded exuberance that distinguish much of McPhail's work. Ages 4-8. (February)