Review: A is not for apple any more

FOR many readers, alphabet books are our first doorway into understanding written language, decoding the relationship between letters on a page and objects in our world.

Such books often fall into "A is for Apple" clichés, they invariably condescend, and they always run into trouble when they get to X.

This beautifully illustrated and coloured book is a refreshing change. Each letter is for a Queensland animal or plant, and they are all presented in traditional Aboriginal painting style, from the jabiru to the red-eyed green tree frog.

There is no condescension here. Brim, from the Djabugay people of north Queensland, clearly knows that children who can all rattle off the names of their favourite dinosaurs won't be daunted by big words unless they're told by adults that they should be.

So Q is for quandong fruit, U is for Ulysses butterfly and Z is for zamia palm.

And X? X is for Xanthorrhoea australis, the grass tree.

ABC Dreaming, illustrated by Warren Brim. Publisher: Magabala Books. RRP $17.95

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