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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
My Favorite Sounds from A to Z
My Favorite Sounds from A to Z
by Peggy Snow, illustrated by Brian Barber
Maren Green,(June 2007)
The oak tree spreads its branches over the sidewalk.
Acorns fall with a plop.
I hear the acorns cracking until my bicycle comes to a stop.
My feet touch the ground. Scrunch!
Soon, squirrels will feast on their lunch.
--My Favorite Sounds From A to Z by Peggy Snow, illustrated by Brian Barber, p. 1.
My Favorite Sounds from A to Z is a feel-good alphabet book that explores sounds and situations that many kids will enjoy and recognize. It invites readers to remember the sound and the pleasure of the experience, such as breaking icicles off with your mitt, or crunching gravel beneath your shoes. Snow's (Feelings to Share from A to Z) text has a lightness to it, a strong child quality with kid appeal. This is someone who remembers the small pleasures of being a child, the small details that can still bring wonder in the world around us.
I love how Snow brings such vivid sensory details into her text, making the details come alive. They're so vivid, they make the reader a part of the poetry through the sounds, images, and memories they evoke. Just her titles alone evoke sounds for me: Acorns Cracking; Gravel Crunching; Horses Galloping. Accompanying each title is a poem about the subject, many of which are also vivid and feel inspired. Most of Snow's choices of sounds feel fresh and alive. The poems usually involve both auditory and visual details. Snow also incorporates onomatopoeia in some of the poems, some of which feel perfect (crunch! of gravel; click, whoosh, snap! of umbrellas opening), and some of which don't work as well (Munch, crunch, chew).
The text is written in first person, which will likely increase reader identification and the ability to hear or imagine the sounds and see the sights described.
Some of the poems feel forced or not as alive as others (such as Doorbell Ringing, Munching Snacks), perhaps in an attempt to have every letter of the alphabet represent a sound. At times, some of the rhyming lines also feel forced. However, most poems work fluidly and beautifully.
Barber's illustrations are bright and cheerful, though they have a kind of flatness to them. The illustrations usually capture the feeling of the poem and nicely depict what is talked about in the poem or what the character would see, which helps make the poems come more alive.
The illustrations look digitally produced, some more than others, with little depth, a fuzziness about many of the setting details, and broad sweeps of color. Characters vary each page, changing gender, allowing greater reader identification. However, there is little cultural diversity; most of the children appear Caucasian. Characters are drawn in a caricature style, with over-sized faces, some features made more prominent, sometimes ridiculously so. Many of the hands and feet also look a little odd to me, with three fingers and one thumb, or four toes, though this is not consistent throughout the book; some have four fingers, one thumb.
Many of the illustrations have a free-flowing feeling that fits the text, and the cartoon style will probably appeal to kids. There's a nice movement of size in illustrations, between full-page, full-bleed spreads, to one per page, to illustrations divided 1 and three-quarters and the other one quarter. This brings visual interest.
The poems and sounds are so vivid and the choices so kid-like that this book feels good to read through. I can also see it being a conversation or poetry starter about sounds, nature, and poetry. Recommended.
-Added May 26, 2008
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