Friday, February 3rd, 2006
Book Review: Alphabet Books by Sleeping Bear Press
Note: See the complete state list at the end of this review.
I love G is for Golden: A California Alphabet by Sleeping Bear Press.
The books in Sleeping Bear’s alphabet series â€“ spanning each of the 50 U.S. states and a variety of other themes â€“ try to cater to kids "from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade." I believe they have accomplished that feat.
First, you gaze at the large, bright, colorful paintings which symbolize letters of the alphabet. For example, for the letter R we see a boy standing amid giant California redwood trees.
Second, there is a short rhyme for each letter: "R is for Redwood, the tallest tree we know. The oldest ones were born, thousands of years ago."
Third, there is a passage providing facts and background about the topic on that page.
Toddlers absorb the paintings and the rhymes. Older kids learn about different regions and people in their state.
What grabbed my attention (while thumbing the pages at Costco) was seeing familiar topics covered well, obscure subjects given prominence, and learning new things about my state.
I is for Ishi? As a kid I read a book about Ishi which my father owned. I’m sure there are lots of "I" topics pertaining to California, but Ishi was plucked for this book.
U is for United Nations… in California? Yep, the first gathering in 1945 occurred in San Francisco.
I have only two gripes.
First, the book title irks me. The cover art implies California is "golden" because of the California poppy, golden summer grasses growing in our foothills, or a golden butterfly. Inside the book G is actually attributed to the Golden Gate Bridge.
And on that point, it’s hard not to notice that 5 of the 26 letters (19 percent) pertain to the San Francisco bay area… Alcatraz, Chinatown, Forty-Niners (with artwork showing the Golden Gate Bridge despite gold’s discovery occurring in Sacramento), John Steinbeck (the Monterey area), and Philo T. Farnsworth (inventing television from his lab in San Francisco). Another 3 letters pertain to coastal communities… Explorers (sailing the seas), Kelp and the Ocean. Big surprise, the author hails from San Francisco.
That said, I don’t mind too much. I wish I could take a peek at the alphabet books for all of the other U.S. states. California is so geographically huge that it’s impossible to encapsulate its history and people with only 26 symbolic topics. I bet the book for Delaware really nails that state.
G is for Golden was written by David Domeniconi and illustrated by Pam Corroll, but the various state books have varying authors and illustrators. Below is a title list to help you locate your state.
- Alabama: Y is for Yellowhammer
- Alaska: L is for Last Frontier (sample PDF page)
- Arizona: G is for Grand Canyon
- Arkansas: N is for Natural State
- California: G is for Golden (sample PDF page)
- Colorado: C is for Centennial
- Connecticut: N is for Nutmeg
- Delaware: F is for First State
- Florida: S is for Sunshine
- Georgia: P is for Peach
- Hawaii: A is for Aloha
- Idaho: P is for Potato
- Illinois: L is for Lincoln
- Indiana: H is for Hoosier
- Iowa: H is for Hawkeye
- Kansas: S is for Sunflower
- Kentucky: B is for Bluegrass
- Louisiana: P is for Pelican (sample PDF page)
- Maine: L is for Lobster
- Maryland: B is for Blue Crab
- Massachusetts: M is for Mayflower
- Michigan: M is for Mitten
- Minnesota: V is for Viking
- Mississippi: M is for Magnolia
- Missouri: S is for Show Me
- Montana: B is for Big Sky Country
- Nebraska: C is for Cornhusker (sample PDF page)
- Nevada: S is for Silver
- New Hampshire: G is for Granite
- New Jersey: G is for Garden State
- New Mexico: E is for Enchantment
- New York: E is for Empire
- North Carolina: T is for Tar Heel
- North Dakota: P is for Peace Garden
- Ohio: B is for Buckeye
- Oklahoma: S is for Sooner
- Oregon: B is for Beaver
- Pennsylvania: K is for Keystone
- Rhode Island: R is for Rhode Island Red
- South Carolina: P is for Palmetto (sample PDF page)
- South Dakota: M is for Mount Rushmore (sample PDF page)
- Tennessee: V is for Volunteer
- Texas: L is for Lone Star
- Utah: A is for Arches
- Vermont: M is for Maple Syrup
- Virginia: O is for Old Dominion
- Washington: W is for Evergreen
- West Virginia: M is for Mountain State
- Wisconsin: B is for Badger
- Wyoming: C is for Cowboy
Other Various Topics:
- A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet
- A is for America: An American Alphabet
- A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet
- B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet
- B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet
- C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet
- D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet (sample PDF page)
- D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet
- G is for Galaxy: An Out of this World Alphabet
- H is for Homerun: A Baseball Alphabet (sample PDF page)
- H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet
- I is for Idea: An Inventions Alphabet
- J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet
- K is for Kick: A Soccer Alphabet
- M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet (sample PDF page)
- M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet
- M is for Melody: A Music Alphabet (sample PDF page)
- N is for our Nation’s Capital: A Washington DC Alphabet (sample PDF page)
- P is for Passport: A World Alphabet
- P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet
- P is for Putt: A Golf Alphabet
- R is for Race: A Stock Car Alphabet
- R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet
- S is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet
- T is for Teachers: A School Alphabet
- T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet
- W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet
- Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet
- Z is for Zookeeper: A Zoo alphabet