Tuesday 7 June 2022

All the Words I Need to Know

All the Words I Need to Know by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Puffin Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760897277

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a first dictionary picture book for toddlers (or super-bright babies!) The fly pages, front and back, list all the letters of the alphabet, sketched by two owls -- a child and an adult --who appear on all the following pages as guides. The text is for the most part written in rhyming verse, such as ‘All the words you need to know/Will help you as you learn and grow. /From ant and ball to yak and zoo, /Here’s a word book/JUST FOR YOU!’

The pages of the book are filled with lots of humorous action as the two unnamed owls get involved. For example, with the letter ‘A’, they collect apples, eat avocado, and examine an ant. On the ‘B’ page, they engage with a bouncing baby in the bath, in bed, and playing with a ball. All the ‘A’ and ‘B’ words -- and throughout the book -- appear in large black font, and a single, larger red letter. 

The illustrations are so zany, one can imagine a small child laughing at pictures such as the giant elephant using its eye to peer into the end of a periscope, the owls climbing a ladder to reach the giraffe’s head, and the horse licking an ice-cream, also the octopus building a tower of bricks. When the owls are in a boat on water, there is a question about the fish (How many fish are in this pond?) so the adult reader will guide the child as they count together.

There is so much to investigate on each page that there’s no doubt many hours will be spent with adult reader and child (or children) reading and re-reading and laughing at the numerous pictures. The last pages finish with a rhyming summary of what’s been seen and heard in the book, with the final double spread showing mum and dad and small son accompanying the owls into a silly zoo (where the octopus plays a fiddle, the yak balances on a watermelon, the snake plays a xylophone and more.)

This book comes highly recommended.

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