17 June 2012

African Animals ABC (Philippa-Alys Browne)

[This post originally appeared on the JoziKids blog.]

I’m not fussy when it comes to choosing books for my one-year-old. But I am discerning. (Which, my husband says, is a euphemism for fussy.)

You see, so many of the kiddie books we’re given have pretty pictures, but rhymes that don’t quite scan. Or missing apostrophes (Its fun at the sea-side.) Or a warped sense of gender roles (He likes to work. She likes to cook.)

And this is why I’m extremely careful when buying books for our daughter. I check them for spelling, grammar, rhymes that flow properly and messages that – while they needn’t be hugely meaningful – aren’t socially worrisome.

Philippa-Alys Browne’s AFRICAN ANIMALS ABC is a magnificent book, and one I can’t wait to read to my daughter. Or, if we’re being accurate, have her ‘read’ to me.

Its pictures are authentic and beautiful African-style illustrations (or perhaps lino-cuts) of African animals – some common, some less so – with an appropriate verb:

Bushbaby blinks
Dassie drinks
Impala grazes
Quail scuttles
Yellow-billed kite soars in the sky

The words chosen are lovely – some are easy, like ‘Crocodile snaps’; others are a bit more challenging, like ‘Porcupine quivers’. And, at the back, there’s a useful blurb on each of the pictured animals for when she’s a bit older or starts asking questions:

The umhutu or mosquito is an insect. The common household mosquito can be found throughout Africa.

Nyala are antelopes that can be found in Southern African. They live and graze in forests and when they are scared, they make a barking sound.

Also, it’s a sturdy board book, which means my little monster can’t rip it to pieces.

In the 13 months of her life, our daughter has been to the bush twice, with a third trip coming up in a few months. So, to have a book with which she can grow accustomed to some of the interesting animals (her word: ‘amals’) we see there, is a great gift.

AFRICAN ANIMALS ABC is also a wonderful gift for foreigners with small children.

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