Arsenault, Isabelle. Alpha. Candlewick Press 2015 n.p. $18.99 ISBN 978-0-7636-7852-4 elem/ms Abecedarian VG
Alpha is an illustrated abecedarian demonstrating the NATO phonetic alphabet with clever and whimsical illustrations. This is a very quick read, even including the informative postscript, but the illustrations are worth slowing down for, to examine and think about as their connection to the letters may be fairly obscure (such as the image of a couture dress beside the letter “Oscar”, which young readers almost certainly will fail to realize alludes to Oscar de la Renta). Indeed, parents may question how appropriate it is to show a dagger for Romeo and a bottle of poison for Juliet in a children’s book, but that is another reference that will probably not make sense to the book’s young readership.
Speaking of the youthful readership, young readers and aspiring cryptologists will definitely enjoy adopting the phonetic alphabet as their own and speaking in code for a while after reading this book. However, they may be doing so with a flawed pronunciation, as the image for “L (Lima)” is a lima bean, which is pronounced differently from the NATO phoneme, which is named for the city of Lima, Peru (“lye-ma” versus “lee-ma”).
Summary: An illustrated abecedarian of the NATO phonetic alphabet with clever and whimsical illustrations for each letter and an informative postscript. What Foxtrot Uniform November!
Abecedarians. --Bethany Geleskie