Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Alphabet explosion!

Alphabet explosion! Search and count from Alien to Zebra by John Nickle
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2006
NF 428 .13 NIC

Search and find books are perpetually popular.
No other type of nonfiction books seem to be borrowed as much as those of the I Spy or Where's Waldo ilk, so I'm always on the hunt for similar titles. The search led me to the inventive and difficult Alphabet Explosion!

What makes Alphabet Explosion! different is this: while the I Spy books give a list of items to find in the adjoining photograph and the object of Where's Waldo is even simpler, Alphabet Explosion! goes one full step beyond and gives the reader a certain number of items in each illustration, and all of those things need to start with the same letter. With 26 illustrations to correspond with the 26 letters of the alphabet, the book has its hook right there.

It gets even better (and harder): according to the instructions at the beginning of the book, the things that need to be found include actions as well as objects, and colours and numbers count too. For example, in the illustration for the letter B,
there is a bear blowing bubbles and a babboon who is bowling with a black bowling ball. It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how tricky it is. I consider myself to be pretty adept at words and pictures but I rarely managed to find all the details.

For example, view the spread below for the letter E (courtesy of this site):

Now find 21 objects, actions, colours, and numbers that begin with the letter E. How did you do?

Each letter has an answer key at the back of the book and I must admit that I flipped to the back in frustration more often than in victory. This is a book that takes time, but it is worth it. Alphabet Explosion! is a challenging book of picture puzzles for older elementary students on up, although younger children will enjoy looking at the colourful and detailed illustrations.

No comments: