'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Review: AlphaKid: An A - Z of Antics

Tania McCartney’s consummate ability to transform mundane non-fictional fact into exceptionally entertaining picture book content is such that I’d recommend a special shelf for them in any child’s bedroom. 

AlphaKid: An A – Z of Antics is the latest in her cache of kids’ books exploring the natural wonders and inhabitants of planet Earth, and it’s a cracker.

There are A, B, C books and then there are A, B, C books that not only educate but necessitate repeated visits because their artwork is so captivating and their presentation so clever, they warrant closer inspection. AlphaKid falls squarely into the latter category. 

It is primarily a listing of the letters of the alphabet but with one key difference; antics or rather, emotions are used as the feature words exemplifying each letter. 

I love this angle as it addresses one of the key elements of terrific storytelling; suffusing feeling into the storyline to promote empathy and connection with the reader. But how is this achieved in a non-fiction A, B, C book with no other text save for the accompanying word? The answer lies in McCartney’s exemplary artwork.

Each spread features a critter, mammal or bird displaying the feeling described by that letter anthropomorphically. For example: A is for annoying showcases a suitably annoyed looking adult gecko festoon with swarming youngsters vying for attention. W is for wailing shows young orangutans vigorously resisting their mama’s tooth brushing regime.

The results are consistently comical and loads of fun. Each new letter explores an exciting new emotion, some expected like L is for loving, most others, a delightful surprise, U is for unreasonable…making this A, B, C encounter a veritable word-adventure for littlies and a jolly experience for those sharing it with them aloud. It is so important for youngsters to hear the beauty and musicality of language, especially of new words. AlphaKid indulges this experience in volume loads.

Words are often secondary to the visual narrative in books of this nature, an area of expertise of which McCartney has full mastery. From the colour tones of cool blues, greys and limes to the expressive features of some of the most beguiling creatures and the humorous detail secreted throughout, each illustration accurately represents its description so successfully it would make an energetic and fun guessing game for non-literate toddlers.

AlphaKids is one of those books I would have kept on a special shelf in the nursery and is certainly a must for its unique approach to the alphabet, animals and associated feelings.

Highly recommended.

Experience an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the creation of AlphaKid with Tania McCartney’s My Illustration Process. Keep your eyes peeled for an AlphaKid Giveaway coming up soon too!

Title: AlphaKid: An A – Z of Antics
Author / Illustrator: Tania McCartney
Publisher: Windy Hollow Books, $25.99
Publication Date: November 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781922081865
For ages: 0 – 4
Type: Non-Fiction Picture Book