Where but in a Canadian alphabet book would "Z" be for "Zamboni"? Per-Henrik Gürth and Kim Bellefontaine's ABC of Canada
is full of references to unusual national icons like the ubiquitous ice-cleaning truck of the local skating arena. While hardly the first book of its kind to celebrate the Canadian experience, this charming and well-conceived thematic ABC promises to help children with their letters at the same time as it imparts a sense of the vastness and variety of the Great White North. Gürth, a graphic designer and illustrator with more than a dozen children's books to his name, uses boldly outlined shapes and bright colours to attract the eye of preschool readers. His computer-generated childlike images also feature a host of appealing animals, including beavers, bears, and a moose.
The text, by Gürth's wife, Kim Bellefontaine, is simple but eminently readable with lots of entertaining sound effects, such as the "Brrr!" of ice fishing on a frozen lake and the "Yee haw!" of watching the Calgary Stampede. (Her choice of "x-country skiing" for the letter X, however, seems rather uninspired.) With its blend of familiar symbols (flag, lobster, Mountie), place names (Peggy's Cove, Toronto, Yukon) and activities (hockey, kayaking), ABC of Canada will not only interest Canadian preschoolers but also the youngest of our tourists. (Ages 2 to 6) --Lisa Alward
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Illustrator Per-Henrik Gurth keeps it simple, with bright colors and strong outlines around minimally defined objects in paintings of the Calgary Stampede, dogsleds, hockey, the Yukon - “where the Northern Lights glow,” and last, a splendiferous Zamboni.