WHAT'S THE WORD/ CHERCHEZ LE MOT
Volume 10 Number 4.
This is the first young children's book by Lesley Fairfield, whose characters have appeared on Sharon, Lois and Bram albums and in the Toronto Sun. Fairfield's picture book presents thirteen black-and-white line drawings of scenes from everyday life, organized as a child's day might be, flowing from morning to evening and including outdoor activities from different seasons. On the left page facing each scene are nine selected objects with their English and French names in large, clear print. The last two pages of the book, which are filled with individual, unnamed objects, review the vocabulary by asking, "What's the word for. . ."/ "Cherchez le mot pour..."
This well-organized book is an excellent tool for beginning readers, since it capitalizes on the everyday vocabulary most children acquire early in life. However, the publisher's claim that the book will be appreciated by adults wishing "to learn a little French or English" is dubious. One adult who tried to use it for second language learning noted that a native speaker has to provide assistance, as there is no pronunciation guide for either language (unlike the First Thousand Words books). Moreover, only concrete nouns are labelled, so the second language learner cannot describe the scenes in sentences.
The scenes themselves are very busy and will likely appeal to children who are learning to pay attention to detail, although very young children may be overwhelmed. Some scenes are relatively uneventful, while others epitomize Murphy's Law, particularly the kitchen scenes (at dinner, the food in the oven is on fire). The book is refreshingly free from sex-and age-stereotyping, although it is difficult to tell whether some characters are older children or adults.
A useful addition to the too few bilingual children's books available.
Adele L. Massena, Don Mills, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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