by Susan Ramsay Hoguet
Down East Books
Inside Cover: What better way for children to learns their ABCs—and discover a little about Maine—than with this vibrant and whimsical volume from Maine artist Susan Ramsay Hoguet. Illustrating distinct Maine icons, such as moose, lobster, and Katahdin, the rhyming verse will have children singing the words, asking for it to be read again and again, and learning their alphabets in no time.
First Letters: A is for alewives in Damariscotta Mills. B is for a bear in the Camden Hills.
Opinion Maine ABC is a different ABC book than most its kind. Instead of using easy words such as A is for apple, shiny and bright; B is for bedtime, tucked in nice and tight, the author uses distinct items and wording from the state of Maine. Unless you live in Maine, which I do not, some of these items and places will be foreign.
I did not know that the Damariscotta Mills is a fishery for alewife, a fished long used as bait to catch lobster. “F is for fiddleheads curled up tight.” Huh? Well, a fiddlehead is a young coiled frond of the oyster fern, considered a delicacy in Maine. “K is for Katahdin with snow at the top.” Katahdin is the name of a mountain; the highest mountain in Maine at 5269 feet and would certainly have snow on its peaks.
I found this to be an informative and interesting look at Maine. I knew not what a yawl or a dory are. Both are ships, the former with two masts and once a popular fishing boat, the latter similar to a rowboat but with higher sides and a flat bottom, also used as a fishing boat. While all of this is interesting and a quick look at what makes the state of Maine unique, the words are often difficult for young children learning the alphabet. It is hard enough for a youngster to remember J is for jacket, let alone Jack-in-the-pulpit (a plant that grows in the woods and is poisonous to many animals).
ABC books are normally printed as board books with heavy cardboard covers and extra thick pages that tiny fingers cannot tear as easily as they could normal stock. Maine ABC abandoned that tradition, instead printing a traditional looking book, but with slightly thicker pages for the little ones. This ABC book should not lie at the bottom of a toy box or playpen. It deserves to be kept with other books on a nice safe shelf.
Maine ABC is a beautiful book with detailed illustrations of each word, all set against a backdrop of water, presumably the sea. Individually, they would make wonderful tiles for a children’s bedroom. The book works for older children—who already know their alphabet—but want or need to remember a few things about Maine. Beginning readers learning their alphabet will find it difficult to remember most of the words used here as keys to the letters. Maine ABC makes a nice souvenir for the state, a quick overview of some important items to those living in Maine, but not a beginner’s ABC book, despite the magnificent illustrations—a beautiful reason to get this book.
by Susan Ramsay Hoguet website blog facebook twitter
Released March 16, 2013
Ages: 2 to 5
© 2013 by Down East Books, used with permission.
Text & Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by Susan Ramsay Hoguet
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- Alewives! (weekendnaturalist.wordpress.com)