An A to Z Walk in the Park by R.M. Smith is a lovely animal themed stroll through the alphabet. This 9” by 9” picture book is aimed at the three to seven year old age group, and it should please animal loving youngsters with its combination of exotic and familiar beasts.
The conceit of the book is inviting the reader into the A to Z park, where every page is dedicated to animals beginning with a certain letter or two. The animals are drawn in a natural setting, and the illustrations have a combination of simplicity and accuracy sure to catch a child’s eye. Several animals are placed in a colourful background, and there is a joy in discovery as we spot an aphid in the flowers or a jaguarundi by a tree.
Speaking of flowers and trees, the foliage in the zoo is a particular delight, with every page giving us a mixture of blooms and trees for the animals to peek around and through. Every animal is clearly labeled, so there is no problem spotting the over 200 species, usefully listed in an index at the end of the book. The mix of exotic and common animals works well - children will have the satisfaction of learning something new and spotting the familiar, both of which delight this age group.
Graphic artist and illustrator Smith did his own design and layout, and, unsurprisingly, the graphic elements of the book are his strength. The text is very serviceable, though I spotted one error in grammar - small, but annoying nonetheless. However, there isn’t much poetry or rhythm embedded in the language to lift it above the ordinary. The writing is lively, though, and every page filled with words beginning with the feature letter. Parents wanting to sneakily teach some phonics along with new animals will find the book useful. The language is complex enough that even early readers will probably not be reading the book themselves. This is a book for an adult to read to a child.
An A to Z Walk in the Park is priced at $7.95 (U.S.) and gives good value for the money. Animal loving children will enjoy their promenade through Smith’s park.