West Coast Wild ABC
West Coast Wild ABC
Ancient trees tower
It is not uncommon for publishers to reissue picture books in a board book format for a younger audience. Sometimes these transformations are successful; sometimes they are not. West Coast Wild ABC is definitely one of the successes. Its contents are based on Deborah Hodge’s and Karen Reczuch’s West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet that was published in 2015. For the board book, Hodge has rewritten the text while Reczuch’s original artwork has been maintained though sometimes cropped to fit the new format.
As can be seen in the above excerpts, Hodge’s simple text consists of a noun followed by a action verb appropriate to the noun. And so, “Eagles nest”, “Newborn fawns hide”, and Rain showers”. Facing pages offer a total of two letters of the alphabet with each letter being presented in its upper and lower case forms.
In her review of West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet, Gillian Richardson said:
Writer Deborah Hodge has included some of the expected land animals (bears, cougars, black-tailed deer, coastal wolves), sea creatures (crabs, whales, sea stars, jellies, limpets, sea urchins, fish) and birds (eagles, marbled murrelets, sandpipers) along with huckleberries, the Pacific, rain, "...yellow, the color of the sun....", and the intertidal zone. To complete the alphabet, she's slipped in a few more unusual choices: quillback rockfish, velella velella and xiphister.
While many/most of the book’s creatures in West Coast Wild ABC will be familiar to the book’s young listeners/viewers, it will be the “more unusual choices” that may send the book’s adult facilitator on some Google searches to answer a child’s queries of “What’s that?”. Though the board book’s “Quillback rockfish sting” text does get across an essential point about this fish species, the new text, “Vella vella drift” is not nearly as informative as that of West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet:
V is for Velella velella, or by-the-wind sailors, that drift in the waves. Like little blue sailboats, they float on the water and catch the wind with their sails.
However, these few challenging instances do not significantly detract from the value of West Coast Wild ABC as both an alphabet book and an introduction to the natural world of the West Coast. Through the various nouns and action verbs Hodge introduces, she adds to young children’s emerging vocabulary, and, as Richardson observed seven years ago, Reczuch “evokes the essence of realism through the use of depth and color in her detailed watercolor and color pencil illustrations.”
West Coast Wild ABC is definitely a board book to be added to home collections as well those institutions serving the very young.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.