- Book Style: Educational book for kids and toddlers
- Reading Level: 2 (Read with Help due to: some mid-level vocabulary)
- Reading Length: 7-10 minutes (FYI – we never account for toddler questions)
- Illustration Style: Renaissance style paintings (watercolor)
- Age Target: 0-5 Years of Age
A French Quarter Alphabet is a kids ABC book written with the historic New Orleans in mind. There’s no “A is for Apple” in this book, as everything relates to New Orleans, from jazz to the parades all the way to roux (mmm, roux). While it’s a localized take on the alphabet, this book carries with it the wonderful culture of the city and its people.
Whenever I receive a book like this, I like to check into the background of the book before getting started. I went ahead and found the author’s Amazon page and, after reading the synopsis of the book from Christine’s author page, I expected a fairly simplistic ABC book. I thought I was in for another run of the mill alphabet book with a few different words used to explain the letters. Instead, what I found was a very stylish and very unique French-American alphabet book that’s intended to immerse you in the wonderful world of New Orleans.
Upon opening up Christine Achille Gunter’s book, what I can tell you is that I was struck by the stylistic choices. I found myself interested and wanting to turn each page. It’s visually a very interesting book, and each page provided something new for my child and I. There were even a few things I had to look up, which is amazing when you think of the target age of this book (0-5 years old).
See, there’s a very powerful cultural component to this book, and it ramps up the learning level for your little one. As you read through the page, you’re going to be answering a lot of questions. For example, you’ll have to explain a beignet to your child. You might even have to explain that beignet is a French word…which might lead you to explain what English and French are! While that might sound daunting at first, there are a few very important things that occur as a result.
First off, questions equal engagement when we’re talking about children. I can safely say that my little niece was completely engaged as I rolled through the pages. She asked me something on nearly every page and therefore, I knew she was engaged and learning.
Additionally, when combined with other alphabet books, this book is going to help your little one make connections quickly. This is especially true if you read this immediately before or after another ABC book, which is what I did with my little niece.
It was interesting to watch, as she definitely didn’t know what a cathedral was. However, she seemed to understand the point of the two books put together right away and started understanding that we were talking about the big letters on the page. Why I’m putting so much emphasis on this is because I remember time after time when I was reading the old Dr. Seuss ABC book, I could tell that my toddler wasn’t understanding that the letters were the point. When using A French Quarter Alphabet along with other ABC books, what I found is that they were disparate enough to encourage a better understanding of letters. I love it when I can find a way to encourage learning at an advanced pace, and this is an easy way to teach the alphabet to our children.
Now, Christine Gunter is an interesting individual, and I think it’s her diverse background that has made this book so interesting. She says that New Orleans is her home, but she was born in the state of New York. If that’s not a diverse background, I don’t know what is. Not only that, but she’s a traveler through and through. It has to be the diversity of her lifelong experiences that has led her to the point to produce such a unique book.
On top of that, Christine has a large, artistic family that she cares deeply about. In fact, Christine and her husband have recently moved to take care of some family members. It takes a special kind of person to do that. That caring attitude (along with what I’m sure is some incredible patience) has helped her build a very close (if not immense) family. She has 7 children and a whole gaggle of nieces, nephews, and grandchildren; it’s pretty clear to me that she’s spent a good chunk of time teaching children. Christine’s family experience has obviously gone into crafting this book.
Which leads me into the creativity portion of the book review. There’s nothing I find more interesting when I review these books than the intricacies of the craft. What do I mean?
- The illustrations are very much an older style that fits with the city of New Orleans, and the culture of the city.
- There are really only 3 colors in the entire book: red, white, and blue. If that doesn’t strike you, perhaps you’d care to look at an American or a French flag?
- While the book is crafted as a kids alphabet book, it’s clear to me that this could be set on any adult coffee table and would drive a lot of conversation.
- Each letter directly refers to a historic or significant cultural item or landmark. There is nothing here that you wouldn’t want to experience when in New Orleans
- All of the pages rhyme in pairs or couplets. I almost missed this, but started to catch on when I noticed I could keep a bit of a pace when reading the book. This is a pretty significant item when teaching children, and if you’re a regular reader of Kids Fun Channel, you know how much I love this.
All in all, this is a wonderful educational book that will absolutely teach children their alphabet. Not only that, but it’ll teach both you and your child a ton about the city and the culture of New Orleans. It’s a unique alphabet book that you just won’t find anywhere else, and I’m absolutely certain that it makes for a perfect compliment for parents that need a little help teaching their little ones the alphabet. It’s not like it’s expensive either, as you can pick up the book on Amazon for $4.97 USD (Kindle) or $8.99 USD (Paperback). Head over there now, and get this cute little educational book for you and your little one to enjoy.
Until next time…Smash, crash, and learn!