________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 23. . . .February 18, 2011


A Newfoundland Alphabet.

Dawn Baker.
St. John's, NL: Flanker Press, 2010.
26 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-897317-90-7.

Subject Headings:
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.
Newfoundland and Labrador-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.
Newfoundland and Labrador-Social life and customs-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.

Review by Alison Mews.

** /4



Self-published in 1998, this alphabet book by Newfoundland artist Dawn Baker has been republished by Flanker Press and given a new copyright of 2010. There have been almost no changes, however, except in the production of the book. The colours of the illustrations have been slightly enhanced with the glossier pages, the font is a little bolder with minor editorial changes in the text, and the book is more sturdily produced.

internal art     Each of the 26 letters has a full-page illustration depicting the item(s) specified for that letter. Baker has chosen one or more nouns, verbs or sometimes phrases to represent aspects of the Newfoundland culture. Included is one place name - Eastport Beach for E. Some words will require explanation or specialized knowledge on the part of the adult reader. For instance, G stands for "Gull, Gannet, Grebe, Grouse," but there is no indication which is which. Some concepts are too abstract for those learning their alphabet, and the illustrations are not helpful. A lighthouse with an ocean horizon behind it is meant to exemplify "Vista from the cape" for V, and most problematic of all is the final letter Z which is depicted by two elderly men holding a bowl of berries to portray "Zest for life." A glossary would have been a useful addition as "Mummers," "Toutons and "Komatik" may be unfamiliar terms to many.

      Artist Dawn Baker is well-known for her lovely nostalgic paintings of Newfoundland traditional scenes, especially those of Christmas mummers and children. These simple pictures don't show the full-range of her considerable talents, and, here, her adult faces have an awkwardness not found in her prints.

      A favourite with grandparents and displaced Newfoundlanders and sold locally in heritage shops and supermarkets, this alphabet book is unlikely to appeal to schools and parents outside the province. A better choice would be either P is for Puffin or Moocher in the Lun, both of which are alphabet books on Newfoundland and Labrador culture.

Recommended with reservations.

Alison Mews, a retired librarian, lives in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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