July 25, 2018

Everyday ABC

Written and illustrated by Paul Covello
30 pp.
Ages 0-4
May 2018

Alphabet books like most concept books tend to be rather simplistic, for two reasons. First, the patterns that the text will follow are predetermined. It's always going to be A through Z. Secondly, they are concept books, those which try to teach a new concept to the very young. They must be simple enough for children to grasp the concept through multiple readings. If there is any confusion or duality of message, the book is not serving its purpose. If the children are not familiar with the words that are selected for each letter, it does not serve its purpose.  Everyday ABC serves its purpose very well and with boldly colourful illustrations that will boost learning.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

For each letter of the alphabet, artist Paul Covello, whose books Canada ABC, Canada 123 and Toronto ABC have already provided familiar Canadian perspectives to concept learning, shares commonplace examples for children.  The list includes: apple, ball, cat, dog, egg, flower, guitar, hat, ice cream, juice, kite, leaf, milk, nest, orange, paint, quilt, rainbow, shoe, tree, umbrella, vegetable, window, xylophone, yarn and zoo. Most children would already be familiar with these words, hearing them regularly in western households: "Put your shoe on" or "Eat your vegetable" or "Let's go to the zoo today." Now they can see the letters that starts these words, see how each word is spelled and learn the order of the letters in the alphabet.  Everyday ABC speaks to the child with things recognizable to them, not to impress the adult reader.

While the text fulfils its mandate of teaching the alphabet, Paul Covello's artwork is probably what children will most appreciate. The art is alive with colour and shape, drawing children to recognize and identify objects in the details and further the learning. E may be for egg, but a child will also learn where the egg comes from as well as the difference between a hen and chicks and a rooster, all in a sunny egg-yolk yellow landscape.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

Moreover, every child, albeit in a western world, is represented here. There is diversity in where children live, what colour their skin is, what clothing they wear. There are boys and girls and children whose gender is irrelevant. There are indoor scenes and outdoor scenes, and scenes of activity and quiet times too.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

While the focus of Everyday ABC differs from his earlier works, Paul Covello continues to recognize how to blend his artwork to help young children grasp new concepts and he does so with an earnest awareness of children's needs and likings that all will appreciate.

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