With Isabelle Arsenault’s Alpha, I finally have a tool to keep the NATO phonetic alphabet in my head. That’s more useful to me than you might think, not least of which is because I really do have to spell both my first and last name quite often when talking to various phone reps. (A… B as in Bravo… R… A… M as in Mike.)
It’s first and foremost a children’s book–though also a good visual aid for learning what is also known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet.
The book’s cover is actually a fine way to judge its contents in this case: It is the clever illustration–a paper airplane–for Delta.
The next spread, Echo, has a child at school throwing such an airplane at the child sitting in front of him.
Each letter of the alphabet receives a two-page spread: the word at left and an illustration at right. Some illustrations you might have guessed–like the couple dancing the Foxtrot. Others are more subtle and creative–like Hotel, which is the Monopoly hotel piece. Romeo and Juliet share a ghostly motif that ties the two images together, separated they are by some pages (and… uh… other impediments).
The letter under consideration has its own color, so that with even younger children you could focus just on A, B, C, D, and so on. Of course, my eight-year-old can appreciate that this section of his Dangerous Book for Boys now has some visual reminders to help him with his NATO alphabet.
There’s no storyline to follow, of course. But it’s been an interesting (and visually pleasing) read for each of my three kids, from three up to eight years old.
The sewn binding and high-quality paper will find approval with parents who want a book that will withstand a few throws across the room. (From the kids, not the parents.)
Alpha is a smart, nice-looking, and useful take on the classic children’s abecedarian.
Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.