A Seashore Alphabet


28 pages
Contains Illustrations





Reviewed by Adele Ashby

Adele Ashby was the former editor of Canadian Materials for Schools and Libraries.


Sam, a glaucous-winged seagull, introduces himself on the first page and then proceeds to take the reader on a tour of his home beach, organized by the letters of the alphabet. For each, there is a plant, bird, or animal (some of which, like “deer,” have little connection with the seashore). Most of the birds and animals are given cutesy names (“Cedric” and “Cecilia Cormorant”), and most are revoltingly anthropomorphized — e.g., Muriel, the merganser duck, has an “upswept hennaed hair-do.” The prose will puzzle its audience. What, one wonders, could a child make of this description of starfish: “All are predators, absorbing bivalves, barnacles and mussels; can regenerate rays, use them for walking.” Some of the information is misleading: the aforementioned deer are described as “Voracious and bold, they feed indiscriminately on forest plants and cherished varieties in unfenced gardens.” There is an occasional burst of poetry, which is not more enlightening. The wildlife specimens are illustrated with poorly executed line drawings and the hand-lettered text is not always straight on the page. Sam flits through the book making gratuitous comments.

This is an extremely amateurish effort. Its dedication leads one to believe that it might have been a family project, a grandmother’s gift to her grandchildren. Its usefulness does not extend to a wider audience.


Coutts, Marjorie, “A Seashore Alphabet,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38675.