CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 6 . . . . November 17, 2000
Colorful Cape Islanders come back to coastal coves with their catch.A Seaside Alphabet, a new addition to the Tundra alphabet book collection, follows in the footsteps of A Prairie Alphabet and A Mountain Alphabet. The focus of this book is the Atlantic Coast stretching from Massachusetts to Newfoundland. This is an area well known both to the author and the illustrator who are both being published for the first time. The author, Donna Grassby, grew up in Nova Scotia, and the illustrator, Susan Tooke, is from New Jersey and presently living in Halifax.
The picture book begins with a full-page introduction by Grassby that begins with her love for the sea, defines the word "coast," points out environmental agents of change and geographical formations, and the ever-present weather conditions which play such an important role in the lives of coastal inhabitants. Donna also touches on the economy, the hardships faced and the early settlers who came from many countries and were welcomed by the Mi'kmaq.
Then the coast comes to life in the paintings created by Susan Tooke. Susan visited communities up and down the Atlantic Coast enabling her to capture with such detail and empathy each unique moment in the lives of the residents both human and animal. The colors are rich and vibrant, creating the cloudy, overcast and the wispy, blue sky days. The illustrations tend to focus on the warmer months when people are more active on the coast. The addition of challenging winter landscapes or boats being tossed at sea might have created a more balanced view of the east coast.
Tooke's landscapes are a perfect match to Grassby's alliterative text. All of the items mentioned in the text can be found in the illustrations, but many more have been cleverly hidden for the reader to find. A complete list of the items to be found in each picture is provided at the end of the book along with very comprehensive background information about each illustration.
This book will enhance curriculum studies in the areas of ecosystems, geography, language development, alliteration, vocabulary, the alphabet, weather and most specifically - the Atlantic Coast. Be sure to visit the Tundra web site at
Susan Fonseca is a teacher-librarian at Glenwood School in Winnipeg, MB.
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