A Pacific Alphabet


32 pages
ISBN 1-55285-264-4
DDC j421'.1





Illustrations by Dianna Bonder
Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


Alphabet books have the necessary constraint of 26 letters. This one,
like several earlier successful Canadian alphabet books, also imposes a
geographic constraint. In addition, the author has tried to tell stories
in rhyme. The earlier books have either used simple unrhymed sentences
(A Prairie Alphabet) or just presented lists of words in rhyme (The
A-B-Cedarium). The result of having A Pacific Alphabet meet all four
constraints has made it less focused.

The text is uneven. The rhymes are sometimes four lines, sometimes two,
and sometimes forced. Some of the rhymes are maritime in flavor, but not
distinctly Pacific Coast. The artwork is more consistent than the text.
It is an interesting fantasy style in which the people are generally
much larger than the objects around them. Animals are often more
realistically drawn than are the people. In each image there are lots of
things beginning with the letter that the image represents. While many
things in the images are clear references to the Pacific Coast, no
attempt has been made to represent the diversity of the people of the
Pacific Coast (e.g., most of the people in the images are blonde).

The drawings incorporate not-so-hidden letters, a feature that new
readers will enjoy. For all its unevenness, this book has a certain
appeal and is recommended for school and public libraries.


Ruurs, Margriet., “A Pacific Alphabet,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/21732.