The author/illustrator has created a multilingual alphabet book using 68 languages besides English to show names for animals represented by the 26 letters of the English alphabet. The title, “A is for Bee” comes from the first page, where we learn that the word for “bee” is Anu in Igbo, Ari in Turkish, Aamoo in Ojibwe and Abelha in Portuguese. Using colorful scratchboard pictures, she then takes us through the rest of the letters, exposing readers to many languages using words confirmed by her team of collaborators with native speakers.
Readers will find they may even be acquainted with some of the different words for animals, such as “simba,” which is Swahili for lion, “gato” which is Spanish for cat, or “Lapin,” which is rabbit in French.
An alphabetized index at the back shows which languages can be found on which English alphabet pages. A note by the author explains how she navigated problems of transliteration, since some of the languages chosen for inclusion in the book do not use the Roman alphabet, as does English. She understands that readers may want to know how to pronounce these words, and to that end, the publisher, Levine Querido, has a fun web page where you can hear each of the words spoken by a native speaker of that language.
Evaluation: This beautiful book for readers 4 and up is not only colorful and fun, but a great way to get kids interested in language origins and word derivations.
Published by Levine Querido, 2022