The Aussie A to Z, by Heath McKenzie

D is for Dingo and dugong and drop bear and damper and dunny and dual flush toilet and Daddy Cool and dog on the tucker box…and a whole lot more.

This gorgeous alphabet book has as much to offer adults and older children as it does the prereaders it is apparently aimed at. With a page devoted to each letter of the alphabet, the text for each is minimal, highlighting just one or two things that begin with the specified letter (D is for Dingo, for example). The illustrations, however, feature a bevy of things beginning with the letter, many more readily identifiable by adults than children. John Farnham features on the W page – as Whispering Jack, of course, Daddy Cool on the aforementioned D page and the Seekers on the S page. A back of book guide identifies the various objects and people shown in each illustration.

The illustrations themselves are comic and colourful, with plenty of detail for youngsters (and oldsters, too) to discover things on repeated readings. The colours vary from spread to spread, as befits the changing subject matter.

This is a fun offering for any young Aussie.

An Aussie A to Z, by Heath McKenzie
black dog, 2007
ISBN 9781921167447

By Jingo! by Janeen Brian

Few adults would dispute the value of alphabet books in presenting the letters of the alphabet and basic words to young children, but the challenge is always to take the book beyond a bland instructional tool and into something which will actually engage youngsters’ attention. If kids enjoy what they are reading (or listening to) then they are far more likely to absorb the intended lessons.

In By Jingo, author Janeen Brian manages to achieve this balance by presenting the alphabet lesson through a series of verses, one for each letter of the alphabet. Instead of just being told, for example, that G is for giraffe, youngsters can enjoy the following poem:

is made up
of five long stalks,
one for his neck
for his walks!

The accompanying illustrations, by the talented Dee Huxley, are full of colour and humour, again drawing children into the text.

Children will love the rhymes, the humour and the vibrant chalk-pastel illustrations so much that they won’t realise they are also learning. Teachers and parents will find the book a delightful way to teach children letters and sounds.


By Jingo!, by Janeen Brian and Dee Huxley
ABC Books, 2005