Kelly Hill’s Anne’s Alphabet joins the other Anne concept books, Anne’s Colors, Anne’s Numbers and Anne’s Feelings. Paying attention to the first word in the books’ titles is the key to approaching the books’ contents as the “Anne” is Anne Shirley of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables, and this point is underlined by the statement that appears just above the cover title – “Inspired by Anne of Green Gables”.
Often, counting and alphabet books are among the first concept books that parents and other adults share with youngsters in their care. Anne’s Alphabet is not, however, an introductory alphabet book as is demonstrated by the content of the first four letters.
Of the four letters, only one, C, has a direct, easily understood correspondence between the alphabet letter and what Hill’s illustration portrays. On the other hand, Anne’s Alphabet offers the older end of its intended audience a richness of vocabulary, including B’s “grove”, K’s “kindred spirit", P’s “puffed sleeves”, and R’s “raspberry cordial”. In today’s world of the iPad and other such electronic devices, adults will need to be prepared to explain S’s lo-tech “slate”.
Each letter of the alphabet is treated in a single page that also contains the illustration and the text associated with that letter. Though the page is headed with the letter’s upper case form, the lower case usually does appear as the initial letter of a word in the text sentence, an example being “C is for cows”.
Though youngsters may be unaware of the links to Anne of Green Gables that are embedded in Hill’s illustrations in Anne’s Alphabet, they will still find her cut fabric, sewn and embroidered illustrations charming and engaging. The zigzag stitching that appears in the board book’s gutter contributes to the impression that this is actually a cloth book.
As I concluded in my review of Anne's Colors and Anne's Numbers, the "Anne" connections in Anne’s Alphabet will undoubtedly be more meaningful to adult readers who encountered Anne of Green Gables in their elementary school years than they will be to the book’s intended preschool audience. Nonetheless, Anne’s Alphabet is a worthy concept book, one which merits home and institutional purchase.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.