Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quirky Picture Book about the Super City

A is for Auckland by Diane Newcombe and Melissa Anderson Scott, Random House NZ

This is certainly an alphabet book with a difference - well, several differences, one being that it is most likely to appeal to Aucklanders!  The alphabet format is simply a means to introduce features of the wider Auckland City. I’m always interested to see how writers cope with q, x and z (okay, they use 1: Queen Street, 2: prompting the reader to mark home on the map with an X, and 3: the Zoo). The features are many and varied, with some real surprises - we are reminded of the Civic Theatre, Ihumatao, Lion Rock, the Otara Market, Te Hana, and Auckland’s many volcanoes. The theme is moved along by means of a little girl and a smart-mouthed tui who fly everywhere and identify the outstanding features. The illustrations are packed with detail, using numerous media such as collage, watercolour, coloured pencil, and black pen. Speech bubbles and casual labels draw attention to other words beginning with the featured letter - and add to the very dense effect. The subtle humour and the complex illustrations means that the book will probably mean more to older children of about 7 to 9.

ISBN 978 1 77553 558 4 $22 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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