At first glance, this alphabet book appears to be very basic. The paintings are beautiful, with deep colors and a crackle finish reminiscent of frescoes, but alas, A is for Apple, B is for Balloon, C is for Cow... nothing new here, right? Look again.
The careful reader will see that each picture contains elements of the preceding picture, as well as hints of what is to come in the next few pictures. The perspective shifts from page to page. So first you see an apple dominating the scene, with an airplane and an ant, and an artist as viewed from behind. But what is that hovering in the sky? A balloon! And on the next page the balloon dominates the page, with a butterfly and a bumblebee, and we see the artist down below again, but this time from the front, and behind her is a house. The next page we see the house get a bit larger and more detailed, although it is still not the focus because a cow dominates the scene, but if you look at that house, you'll see a dog is about to run inside. Turn the page, and the dog is indeed inside, prominently featured, dancing around, because of course D is for Dog. What comes next? Look at the picture for your clue.
This book works on so many levels. Young children can easily grasp the simple A is for Apple, B is for Balloon theme, but older children will love the hunt for similarities and differences between the pages, finding the clues for what is to come, and maybe even making up their own story about what is happening behind the scenes.
ABC: A Child's First Alphabet, by Alison Jay. First published in the UK by The Templar Company, 2003. My copy was published in the US by Dutton Children's Books, 2003.