Lois Ehlert illustrates their goings-on with cut-out letters that remain easily recognizable despite some bending and manipulating to add character.Once all those letters can be named without trouble, children are ready for books that partner each letter with a single, easy word that not only begins with that letter but also matches its most common spoken sound.Nouns in the for Bear vein are best, being easiest for beginners to decipher by looking at the accompanying picture.
and John Archambault also refrain from tying the letter shapes to words, but add a simple story to the mix, with rhythm and rhyme.
The action-filled plot even brings in the lowercase letters — as the children of the uppercase ones, of course.
The first step toward reading is spotting letter shapes and giving them names.
Flashcards would get the job done, but where’s the fun?
Showing both common and unusual items from the produce section (Swiss chard, spinach, starfruit), Ehlert’s brightly colored collage illustrations make even ugli fruit look appealing.
(This book could also serve double duty by challenging children to find and taste new foods.) V for Vanishing by Patricia Mullins is another enticing theme book with collage illustrations showing endangered species.
Milich’s black-and-white photos in his City ABC Book offer a little more help for beginners by overlaying red to emphasize each letter.
Neither book attempts to tie the shapes to words that begin with those letters. In the now-classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr.
I’m struck, in particular, by his depiction of Holiday — her bare shoulders and upper chest conveying a muscular openness, almost unprotectedness — contrasting with the way Neil has drawn her hands — out of proportion, large, nervous and weighty at the same time.
A final note: Neil does something — some magic beyond my ken — with the lettering he employs on the righthand pages that makes the words leap up into my face.