CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008
With a title like Hello, Good-bye, it's pretty obvious that the book's contents are likely going to be about opposites, and such a supposition proves to be correct. The paired opposites are provided both pictorially, via full-colour photos, and also via words, principally a single word for each part of the pairing. On the surface, creating an illustrated book of opposites seems to be an easy task, but it is one that, to use a cliche, is fraught with dangers. In this particular instance, how much the young viewer/listener brings to the book will play a part in determining how successful Alda has been, and I do not think that she has been entirely successful as she often demands too much of her viewers/listeners, especially the younger ones. Before reading the words to children in the book's target age range, it might be most interesting to just let them "talk" to you about what they "see" on each pair of facing pages. I doubt that there will be a great deal of correspondence between the printed words and the children's verbal responses.
In all, Alda provides 14 pairings: cold/hot, old/new, straight/slanted, wet/dry, below/above, quiet/loud, soft/hard, asleep/awake, push/ pull, parked/on the go, hungry/full, make-believe/real, alone/together and hello/good-bye. Just looking at the word pairings in isolation, most seem to be terms that fall within the "experiences" of the two to five-year-old target audience, though I do question "parked/on the go." The addition of the photos, which should clarify the opposites, sometimes has the potential to complicate a child's understanding of the opposites. For example, most young children understand quiet/loud, if only in terms of "using your inside voice as opposed to your outside voice." However, how do the photos of a single guitar playing man and two men on alpine horns transmit the meaning of those opposites to North American children who might, at best, have heard/seen a guitar being played (and I've heard "loud" guitars).
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, of Winnipeg, MB, is CM's editor.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.