Thursday 7 October 2021

G is for Gnome

G is for Gnome by Katie Littlefield and Will Mosley, quilted by Eleanor Labiosa (Boolarong Press) ISBN 978 1 925877 55 7 RRP $29.99 HB

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

G is for Gnome is an alphabet book with a difference. Instead of the usual ‘a is for apple and b is for banana’, the alphabet is represented by words that start with the letter but don’t sound like they do. For instance, P is for Pterodactyl, K is for Knight and J is for JalapeƱo. Each double page includes the meaning of the word along with a phonetic pronunciation, which is often quite different to how it looks. The other delightful difference is that all the illustrations are photos of quilted pictures, with their interesting textures and patterns.

The original concept occurred to the author Will Mosley in 2009 when he was working in a mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. He started to use quirky alternatives to the phonetic radio code for half a dozen of the letters (Alpha, Bravo etc) when he talked to his work mates in their mining trucks. A few years later in 2014 he and his wife Katie Littlefield came up with the rest of the alphabet, and, with Eleanor Labiosa, developed the book.

Words from all around the world are included.  R is for Rgya-Glin (pronounced Gay-Ling) which is a woodwind instrument used by Tibetan monks.  N is for Ng’oma (pronounced In-Goh, Ma) which are drums used by the Bantu populations of Africa. The most unusual one is certainly El Silbo which is a whistled language of the Canary Islands used to communicate across deep ravines and narrow valleys. A glossary at the back of the book lists all the words and meanings. Embedded in each quilted picture is the letter it illustrates so kids can search for those as they go through the pages.

This is a great book for word nerds and is a picture book many adults will enjoy. Older kids who are clear on their letters and enjoy words should find G is for Gnome quite engaging.

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