An Island Alphabet


32 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-921556-44-6
DDC j971.7





Illustrations by Erica Rutherford
Reviewed by Lisa Arsenault

Lisa Arsenault is an elementary-school teacher in Ajax, Ontario.


At first glance this appears to be a conventional alphabet
book—unusual only in that all the words chosen to represent the
letters of the alphabet pertain to Prince Edward Island. As in the
traditional format, each letter appears in boldface in both upper and
lower case with a sample word and an illustration beside it. Here
similarity to traditional alphabet books ceases. The point of such
primers is to feature easily decodable words so that children will be
able to make the connection between the sound of the initial letter of
the sample word and the sound of the given letter. Similarly, the sounds
of the letters that follow the sample word’s initial letter should
also be readily identifiable to reinforce what knowledge of the alphabet
and phonics the child has already acquired. Lastly, once the child has
successfully sounded out the word, it should prove to be something
recognizable in his or her frame of reference. In this book these simple
requirements are not met. For instance the example for “A” is
“Abegweit.” I find it difficult to believe that young children (for
whom, surely, an alphabet primer is intended) will be able to sound out
this word easily, let alone know its meaning. The word for “C” is
“Ceilidh” (which is pronounced kay-lee), and the example for “P”
is “Phantom”—certainly more within a child’s frame of reference
as far as meaning is concerned, but utilizing a consonant blend rather
than the initial sound of “p” alone, which should be learned before
“ph.” The impossibility of decoding some of these words phonetically
could hardly contribute to a rewarding learning experience, and,
although a glossary is included to provide pronunciations and
definitions, the initial failure would offset the dubious pleasure of
finally deciphering the phonetic puzzles and discovering the meanings.

This book was obviously the product of a great love for Prince Edward
Island, and the illustrations and glossary may have some application for
an older student working on a P.E.I. project, but I would not recommend
its use as an alphabet book.


Rutherford, Erica., “An Island Alphabet,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,