Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book #80: A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer, Illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Image from KinderKorner.com

This book uses a well-known playground game and turns it into a hilarious romp through the alphabet. Each letter is celebrated by two animals who state their names, where they come from and what they sell. For instance, a hippo and her hamster husband shout out:

“H. My name is Hannah and my husband’s name is Henry. We come from Hawaii and we sell harps.” 

The ridiculous situations and characters that spring out of these rhymes are illustrated with Kellogg's signature style full of whimsy and wordplay. Kids will want to spend time examining the illustrations to find the humorous hidden details. The text is repetitious, using the same pattern to describe each scene. In addition, Bayer identifies each animal within the text and also includes a note about “less familiar creatures” in the back of the book. These include the Quahog, Unau, Ibex, and the made-up Xigertling. 

This book covers all 26 letters of the alphabet, so it can be a bit lengthy to share all in one sitting. If your group focuses on 1 letter at a time, use the page featuring the letter as an introduction to that letter and then talk about the sound of that letter. Repeat the words that start with that letter in the text.

Get out a map and split up the kids into small groups. Assign each group 2 or 3 letters in the book and have them place a flag on the map for each location mentioned. Is the location a city, a state, or a country? Which continent is it a part of?

Have each child write a rhyme using the first letter of their name. You might need to help kids with Q, X, Y, and Z names. This is a good excuse to pull out reference books about animals, locations, and even an encyclopedia.  Research can also be done on computers, but I think it’s helpful for kids to learn how to use the alphabet to find information in print format. Kids can also illustrate their rhyme. Collect all the pictures and rhymes and make them into a book to share.


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