A is Not Only for Apple: English Alphabet Rhymed and Illustrated, by C.K. Thomas Tseng (NOOK Book, 2016, 38 pages).
Illustrated by Anat Tour
Book Review by Dennis Moore
July 19, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) - A classic case of “When East Meets West” is this book written by author C.K. Thomas Tseng of Taiwan; A is Not Only for Apple: English Alphabet Rhymed and Illustrated, and illustrated by San Diego’s East County’s own Anat Tour, an established author in her own right. Combining two familiar literary figures of speech – alliteration and end rhyme – A is Not Only for Apple: English Alphabet Rhymed and Illustrated helps very young learners of English obtain their early sensitivity to the sounds of the English alphabet in a natural and linguistic way. This collaboration on the part of Tseng and Tour seems to be the perfect marriage of cultures, East and West.
Tseng, who has a PhD in English from Newcastle University (UK), teaches English literature and literary translation at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Taiwan. He has published a Chinese translation of the elegies of John Donne with annotations (2011). He has also translated two contemporary novels into Chinese, Ketil Bjornstad’s To Music (2014) and Paul Hartal’s The Kidnapping of the Painter Miro (2014).
It is Tour’s illustrations that actually brings out the full thrust of this fun and educational book, designed for young children. It encapsulates the style of her earlier books that this writer has had the honor and pleasure to review; Mama’s Shoe and The Rainbow Animals.
In this book, each English letter, from A to Z, is accompanied by a set of rhymed couplet meant to be witty and imaginative, and an enticing, childlike illustration by Canadian illustrator Tour.
With the use of alliteration (Latin for “repeating and playing upon the same letter”), a figure of speech in which certain letters, especially those placed at the beginning of words, are repeated, young learners learn how to detect the recurrence of a certain letter in a couplet. Take “A” as an example, they will find there are altogether seven words that begin with “A” in the following couplet:
“Little ant, little ant, do you have an arm?
Are you stealing the acorns in April from the farm?”
With the use of end rhyme, which usually occurs at the end of a line of verse, the book shows young readers how a couplet rhymes. Take “I” as an example:
“Inside the ivory wall where inhabits the iguana.
It isolates itself, though indeed it needs ice cream with banana.”
Speaking of imagination, which Coleridge considered to be “synthetic” and “magical”, the book tries to enlighten young readers’ minds with a bit of adult sophistication:
“To understand and unveil the unseen universe – Untie, unchain and unloose your mind with a verse.”
Typical of Tour's illustrations in this book are the attached drawings, accompanied by humorous messages and dialogue.
A is Not Only for Apple is sure to stimulate and delight young readers, and their parents that might read the book to them, while at the same time enhancing their educational experience.
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego along with the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.