CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 11 . . . . January 31, 2003
Alphabeasts is a winner! With his first picture book, gifted artist and illustrator Wallace Edwards has won the 2002 Governor General's Award for Children's Book Illustration.
and viewers step through the front door of an unusual Victorian mansion
and find themselves on a magical mystery tour of exquisite, zoologically
accurate, alphabet animals. Each alphabeast's watercolour and coloured
pencil portrait is set in a lavishly patterned and bizarre domestic
background. Complementing "J is for Jaguar, checking the stairs"
is an image of a jaguar slinking down the steps, its textured coat
offset by a yellow and black-checked carpet, geometric wallpapered
and painted walls, and vivid floor rugs. The shadowed back half of
a shy unicorn leaps into its wall-hanging front half. A tarantula
emerges from an upset teapot lying in a pool of spilt tea and broken,
blue-green crockery shards cast against a black and white square-tiled
floor. The detailed, wildly inventive artwork is a feast for guiding
adults' or independent children's eyes and imaginations.
There is much to think and talk about as young and older readers revisit this whimsical and delightful variation on animal alphabet books that has created a unique place for itself between the realms of reality and fantasy.
Wayne Serebrin teaches Language and Literacy in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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