Pros: teaches children adjectives as well as the alphabet, darling illustrations
Cons: too much like Boynton's other alphabet book (A to Z)
If you have kids, eventually, an alphabet book will end up in your home library. If your home is anything like ours, there will be multiple alphabet books on the shelves.
That said, why should you consider adding Sandra Boynton's A is for Angry to your shopping cart the next time you are purchasing books?
You should do just that because A is for Angry isn't your usual alphabet book.
Most of the alphabet books on the market use the same letter and picture combinations throughout: A is for Apple, B is for Banana, C is for Cat and so forth. Nice but not much fun for mom and dad.
Those books that really take the medium further like Grahme Base's Animalia or Lynne Cheney's America: A Patriotic Primer aren't really for the youngest kids out there who are just learning the language. While Animalia is gorgeously illustrated, it's best suited for those who have the language and visual skills to recognize, find and label the various objects on each busy page. The concepts and text in Cheney's book are far beyond the 3-5 age group for which Boynton's book was written.
The classic book out there is by Dr. Seuss where the choices for each letter of the alphabet are completely imaginary and zany. While this is nostalgic fun for those of us who grew up on Dr. Seuss ABC, I wanted something that had those aspects but wasn't pure fantasy.
Sandra Boynton's A is for Angry fits that bill beautifully. It's the only alphabet book I've run across that uses adjectives for each letter. This was particularly helpful for my daughter who is hyperlexic. She loves the alphabet and reading which are great windows to learning for her. By tapping into her love for letters, it was easier for us to teach her adjectives and emotions that she needed to know. We were then able to take the book and expand upon the concepts, generalizing to other objects and emotions in everyday situations. This will mean nothing to those who aren't familiar with the ABLLS (The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills), but if your child is working on F22 (requests using adjectives) or G11 (labeling adjectives), this book could be helpful.
Each letter of the alphabet is presented on its own page (or two), in most cases with an animal (or two) whose name starts with the same letter of the alphabet. Along with the alphabet letter and the hand drawn animal illustration is some text telling us what each letter is "for". One example is "A is for Angry". In that case, there is a frustrated anteater poking his head through the letter A looking up at an antagonistic ant perched atop the letter. Even if you couldn't read a thing on the page, the situation is quickly assessed simply by looking at the facial expressions on the characters.
I really like the layout of the various pages. The large letters are presented in one color and the adjectives are in another while the rest of the text is usually in black, making the letter and adjective pop off the page.
The illustrations show verve and energy with the characters engaging in activities in front, in back, to the sides, below and on top of the letters. Characters run, jump, sleep and dive throughout the book. You'll find this to be true in all of Boynton's work. I also like the not so familiar animals the author chose to highlight including anteaters, flying fish, newts and an unau.
I can't say that A is for Angry is exactly "unique". If you've picked up Sandra Boynton's other alphabet book A to Z, you'll notice many similarities. A to Z is a board book which uses verbs to describe each animal instead of adjectives and there are more letters presented on each page. Many of the animals are the same for each letter such as quail for the letter Q, cats for the letter C and elephants for the letter E. I think the two books are quite complimentary and can be used together as teaching tools.
I can't say anything about the nutritional qualities of this book as no one has tried to eat it. If you're interested in such information, my daughter did take a bite out of Sandra Boynton's Hippos Go Berserk.
This book is suitable for children of all ages, be they beginning or more seasoned readers. It's been a huge hit with my four and a half year old!