Featured in the Calgary Herald! - Gulf Islands Alphabet by Bronwyn Preece and illustrated by Alex Walton is a gorgeous alphabet book that highlights the natural beauty of the Gulf Islands in the southwest corner of B.C., taking readers on an island-hopping journey.
Quill and Quire
The beautiful and numerous Gulf Islands, lying between the eastern coast of Vancouver Island and mainland B.C., lend themselves well to this richly illustrated alphabet book. Resonant names such as Penelakut, Gabriola, and Salt Spring, arising from the histories of First Nations traditions, Spanish exploration, and English settlement, provide author Bronwyn Preece with an island for almost every letter of the alphabet. She works these names into sentences, using as many words as possible starting with the given letter. The results are often more clever than pleasing to the ear, and younger children might find the laboured text unsatisfying. Older children, on the other hand, may enjoy the exuberant piling up of alliterative words.
Readers of all ages will delight in Alex Walton’s lush watercolour illustrations. The double-page spreads give a vivid sense of the islands’ land- and seascapes. Walton varies his scenes by employing unusual perspectives: we view islands through the curving frame of a ferry’s deck, look down on them from the height of an eagle’s nest, and gaze at them through ferns and boulders on the forest floor. On some pages we are underwater with jellyfish and kelp, looking up at children in a rowboat. The paintings are full of action, as boys leap into the sea off the Gabriola Galleries or sail a dinghy through the surging water of a narrows.
Although this alphabet book celebrates a particular Canadian locale, readers anywhere will take pleasure in the colourful names and landscapes depicted in it.
"Another alphabet-type children's book is Gulf Islands Alphabet. The setting is the Salish Sea in the southwestern corner of British Columbia where the Gulf Islands are. Beautiful illustrations by Alex Walton and "poetic alphabet" text take the reader on a journey to the Gulf Islands' archipelago. While reading about Arbutus trees, Bowen Island, colossal cedars and Denman Island as well as Valdes Island and whale watching young readers learn about this fascinating place - and the alphabet!" - Simcoe.com
Books My Boys Love:
Why we love it: My boys love seeing familiar places in the stories that they read, and even though this is regionally specific, it would be a good addition to any Canadian library or as a keepsake for people who visit this area. The illustrations are great…my boys like pointing out all of the wildlife in the pictures and the text also serves to expand their vocabulary and understanding of the geographic and natural environment (e.g.”orcas and octopi, oysters and otters”)
I personally think there are far too many boring and mundane alphabet books out there that dumb down language and are not challenging enough for children. I appreciate how the writer does not restrict herself to using nouns to demonstrate letters of the alphabet, but also uses descriptive adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc.
It’s lyrical, beautifully illustrated, and the ‘alphabet book’ is also a Gulf Islands narrative…one that flows through each letter of the alphabet.
Artist Alex Walton depicts a landscape familiar to residents of the West Coast in Gulf Islands Alphabet. Expanses of ocean, towering trees and thick undergrowth are realistically featured in the watercolours that fill the pages.
Winnipeg Free Press
For sheer beauty of presentation, Gulf Islands Alphabet by B.C.'s Bronwyn Preece (Simply Read/Raincoast Books, 56 pages, $20 hardcover) gets full marks. The letters of the alphabet reflect the names and unique qualities of these islands off Canada's West Coast.
For example: "Setting Sail through the Salish Sea, we leave the Shores of Savary, Sauntering Southward to Saturna's Shoals of Starfish, and Salt Spring Island all Speckled in Sheep, where we hope to spot the Seldom Seen Sharp-Tailed Snake."
Alex Walton, whose watercolour illustrations make this book special, was born in Jamaica but now makes his home in B.C. While this is aimed at youngest readers, adults will appreciate the lush beauty of the artwork and the clever choice of words in the text.