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Saturday, March 17, 2012

S is for Shamrock

S is for Shamrock : an Ireland Alphabet (Discover the World)
written by Eve Bunting
illustrated by Matt Faulkner

Discover the World series of books present some interesting notes about each country working through the letters of the alphabet from A to Z in each book to showcase the country's best features.

We've read a few books in the series. Some were more appealing than others to the six year old; and some were, to be honest, rather tiresome and contrived, possibly because it is not easy to find things that neatly present the letters of the alphabet while highlighting something interesting about the country..

B is for Bagpipes (Scotland), C is for Ciao (Italy), D is for Dancing Dragon (China), T is for Taj Mahal (India), and P is for Piñata are a few of the Discover the World books we've read so far, over the course of a year.

However, S is for Shamrock readily appealed to Ana. Possibly because she loves Ireland and Wales for some reason. Although the book did not garner repeat reads, it had some things that fascinated her, like: B is for Blarney Stone, F is for Fairy Rings, I is for Irish Wolfhound, L is for Leprechauns, O is for O' (O'Brien, O'Neill, O'Dea), R is for Riverdance and of course, S is for Shamrock.

I liked it right away possibly because the author - Eve Bunting - is one of my favorites. I have tremendous respect for her. As the notes at the back mentions, Ms. Bunting has published more than 250 books, many of which have won awards, voted by children. Honored with Pen International Special Achievement award for her contribution to Children's Literature, she was also named the Irish American Woman of the Year in 2002 by the Irish American Heritage Committee of New York.

The language could be a bit demanding for the 6 yo but it is a great exercise to get her out of her comfort zone. And she can easily follow along from context even if some of the expressions are new to her. For example:

I is for Irish wolfhound
The wolfhound is a noble dog.
He'll seldom gallop, prance, or jog,
but strides along with stately grace
befitting his exalted place!

Each double page spread is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet. One side has a verse about the featured item as above, while the other side of the page has a few paragraphs of descriptive text about that item. Reading this description helps understand the verse better, but can be omitted for younger audience.

For instance: on the I is for Irish wolfhound page, we read that
The Irish wolfhound is the tallest of all dogs....
Bred in Ireland to hunt wolves and giant elk, it could be owned only by kings and noblemen...
Strong and courageous, the hounds rode with their kings into battle...

and some more interesting facts which might not impress a very young reader but was quite interesting for me.

[image source: amazon.com]

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