There are hundreds of alphabet books available. Many of them with vivid pictures and appealing text. A Isn’t for Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet is in a class by itself. The intriguing title and adorable fox being carried off by a troop of ants prompted me to take this one home from the library. Author WendyUlmer has created a simple but brilliant format that is witty and entertaining. Here is a sample:
H isn’t for rings; it isn’t for strings.
H is for hummingbirds with whirring wings.
I isn’t for dot; it isn’t for knot.
It is for iguana who loves a hot spot.
The patterned text repeats key sight words—isn’t, for, and it. Early readers will quickly memorize the format. Then, they can practice reading it using the pictures as cues and phonetic skills. After reading the words over and over from memory, they will recognize them in other books. In addition, the internal and end rhymes create a soothing and melodic flow, making it an ideal book for reading aloud. The use of rhyming words is desirable for early readers too. They can identify them by pointing them out and learning that the endings make the same sound with each word. The young reader just needs to sound out the beginning letter or letters. Also, the patterned format is also conducive to children writing their own “isn’t alphabet” couplet and then illustrating it. Another effortless activity is to brainstorm periodically other words with the same beginning sound as the letter on the page.
Artist Laura Knorr has done an amazing job creating striking illustrations to accompany the playful text. I love looking back over the pictures again and again. She uses rich colors and pleasant-looking creatures. The animals are often depicted in their natural habitats, usually doing something realistic, but she takes it a step further by adding the fantastic. Take this couplet as an example:
K isn’t for rain; it isn’t for train.
K is for Kangaroo on the Australian plain.
A pair of kangaroos is on the Australian plain, but one is carrying an umbrella to avoid the rain and the other has a toy train. Other couplets lend to the imaginative naturally, such as this one for “O”:
O isn’t for docks; it isn’t for rocks.
O is for octopus knitting four pairs of socks.
The text and illustrations could be used as springboards for discussing reality vs. fantasy. Children can pick out the elements that are realistic and those that are imaginative. Each reading experience with this book has the potential to be fresh and enriching. I recommend A Isn’t for Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet for ages 3-7.