As easy as ABC?

A Board Book Every Week: No 14

Jane Foster's ABC, board book, Templar Publishing

Jane Foster’s ABC (Templar Books 2015)

‘As easy as ABC…’?

Well, ABC isn’t actually that easy if your brain gets lost in those dubious middle regions – JKL anyone? And why on earth does P come after O? RST seems logical, yet U V and W afterwards are pretty random. Of course, this may just be me. But we can probably all agree that XYZ is the perfect ending.

Alphabet books has been around for centuries. Even if, quite frankly, we don’t teach the alphabet like this any longer, ABC is a handy way of organising a picture book. There have been some fabulous versions over the years…

A Peacable Kingdom, the Shaker Abecedarius

Delicate animal images from ‘A Peaceable Kingdom, the Shaker Abecedarius’


Z for Zip, Paul Thurlby's Alphabet (Templar)

Z for Zip from Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet


Ladybird Books ABC

The oh-so-familiar style of vintage Ladybird Books

…so have I broken my rule of book-selection for babies and gone for one that pleases me more than it suits an under-1-year-old? Erm – I think Jane Foster’s ABC will please us both. The stylised images probably won’t mean much yet to tiny readers but their vivid colours, sharp black outlines, and high contrast graphic patterns will definitely grab them. This book is sturdy and well-produced and should withstand lots of love.

Some words are simple and familiar – T for tree, H for house, I for ice cream  – and many of them darned exciting – dinosaur, octopus, rocket! We still have the perennial problems of K (kite) and X (xylophone) (YAWN!) but Y is for yoyo and not, thank goodness, for the unspellable and improbable yacht. Then W is for wolf and Z for zebra. I just wish both these two had been given more space to play in.

Jane Foster's ABC, Templar Books, board book

And – yippee! – a gorgeous end page with a summary of every letter from A-Z, which lets us grown-ups see how clever the choices of colour and image have been. And lets babies look and find.

The first-page image is a beautiful A for armadillo, curled into a circle and looking at the reader with big black eyes. So maybe I fell in love with this book and then found justification for buying it. Armadillo is not the go-to favourite animal of most babies. (Yet.) But I do collect ABCs – so can I be forgiven?

What do you think?

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