We here at the House of Hope are generally not big fans of alphabet books. When we crack open a picture book, we’re anticipating a story! While I love concepts and illustrations enough to tolerate a book without a plot, my girls have been known to groan when faced with the prospect of thirty-something pages of text in alphabetical order. I have to hand it to this book, however: An Edible Alphabet: 26 Reasons to Love the Farm has enough going on between its two covers to engage even my story-hungry girls.
An Edible Alphabet by Carol Watterson gives just what its subtitle promises: 26 Reasons to Love the Farm. However, this is nothing so simple as Apples to Zucchini. No, instead we get things like “Ants on Asparagus,” with a two-page spread detailing both “those little green soldiers poking their heads through the brown earth. . . Spring’s first arrival on the farm!” and ants and their relationship to aphids. Did you know that ants actually “herd” aphids, keeping them safe from predators so they can eat the aphids’ honeydew? I didn’t. Isn’t that neat? The topics in this book are many and varied, including ewes, fish farming, kohlrabi, roosters, woolly bears, Hereford cattle, and hummingbirds. It’s the format of this book, though, that makes it especially appealing. Each page includes a variety of text styles, with “bullets” of information after the main text, and sometimes even related poems and nursery rhymes. I was tickled to be reminded of an old rhyme the girls learned in their music class but that we hadn’t thought of in a while: “Five plump peas in a pea pod pressed. . . ” We taught it to the DLM, much to all our delight. Couple the fun format and subject matter with the gorgeous and bright collage illustrations by Michela Sorrentino, and this book is a winner all the way around. This would make an excellent addition to a farm-study unit, or simply a just-for-fun book to sit and pore over on a winterish day. I think that fans of Lois Ehlert will really like this one, although it’s more complicated than most of her picture books. Highly Recommended. (Tricycle Press, 2011)