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ABC USA

Illustrator: Martin Jarrie

With folk art-style illustrations that echo the artistic legacy of generations of American painters, Jarrie has created a volume to be cherished. It's suitable for little ones learning their ABCs, slightly older kids who want to find out more about their country's symbols, and grownups who appreciate fine art. Best of all, it truly goes to the heart of the American spirit in all its diversity and depth. Here are treasured landmarks, significant events that shaped the nation's development, and also the flora, fauna, and fun things so dear to our hearts. A is for alligator, and B is for baseball--and the image shows a great big mitt, a player at bat, and a pitcher winding up. G is for the Grand Canyon, portrayed in deep, earthy colors topped by a violet sky. H is for Hollywood, depicted in a witty montage. P features Pilgrims, R has a Rodeo, and U reminds us of the Underground Railroad. At the book's end, two spreads with thumbnail versions of every picture provide additional background information.

From Booklist
Illustrator Jarrie may be French, but his take on the ABCs is purely American. Employing a folk-art style, he highlights one letter of the alphabet per page, illustrating it with a quintessentially U.S. idea and image. B is for baseball, and a glove and ball stand out against a distressed wood background with a pitcher and hitter also decorating the page. On the page for the letter I, immigrants standing at the bow of a boat look out on Ellis Island; the facing page, celebrating J for jazz, has pictures of musicians and a singer. A couple of the choices seem a little off; especially the alligator that represents A, but a key at the back with thumbnail reprints of the art gives a bit of information about the images (the alligator is the official reptile of Florida). Jarrie's figures look like country wood carvings, and he manages to give an amazing amount of depth to simple shapes (a flag curls like a ribbon) and even more to objects with statuesque dimensions such as the cliffs of the Grand Canyon. The deceptively childlike look of the artwork makes this a natural for a young audience. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Ages 5-7

$14.95 (hardcover)

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