Sunday, 11 November 2012
Plenty story, hardly any words.
Alphabet books, on the whole are quite dull - 'A is for apple, B is for ball', illustrated by a generic picture of said item. Dull, and really just learning by rote with very little interaction with the child. Alison Jay's Alphabet is something quite different, with the 2 year old regularly bashing me about the head with it in a demand to have it read to her. Why? Because it's not just an alphabet, it's an exploration of the alphabet and an exercise in observation and memory for children.
Alison Jay's illustrations are never just of 'A is for apple, B is for ball'. Yes, there's an apple, but there's an aeroplane, an ant and an artist painting an apple. There's also a clue in each picture as to what's in the next; a key next to the Jack-in-the-box waiting to unlock K's keyhole. Images recur as well - through the keyhole you can see G's giraffe as well as H's horse rider and L's lion. Emily loves flicking back and forward through the pages finding new links, and it's really helping her vocabulary too.
Jay's illustrations have a really calming tone to them with their crackled glaze and muted tones and are a bit like a warm snuggle under a blanket (which is where I like to read them best). Her world is reassuringly the carried through all her work, with instantly recogniseable landscapes, and always packed with so much more than the words will ever tell you.
I can't go without sharing some of her other books, because she's just so talented it would be a crime not to!