Mountains are an impressive sight anywhere in the world but those of the western mountain region of North America offer riches that are truly unique. This lavishly illustrated picture book presents snowcapped peaks, emerald lakes, tall pines and magnificent maples, and a range of birds and animals that will fill readers of all ages with wonder.
The treasures and mysteries of nature are depicted in twenty-six full-color paintings, each with a line of alliterative text. Objects that begin with that letter of the alphabet are waiting to be discovered in each illustration. Complete with detailed information about each setting painted, this is a visually and mentally stimulating experience – from A to Z.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Margriet Ruurs
Margriet Ruurs is the author of many books for children, including Wild Babies and A Mountain Alphabet. She has a Masters Degree in Education and has spent her adult life both writing books for children and teaching children about books. She has spent a great deal of time hiking and camping in the mountains and traveling. Margriet Ruurs has lived across North America and now makes her home in Oregon.
About Andrew Kiss
Andrew Kiss came to Canada from Hungary in 1957. He grew up in Vancouver, where he taught himself how to paint. He paints wildlife and landscapes and has spent much of his life traveling the world to see his subjects in their native habitats. Andrew Kiss’s work has been exhibited across North America and Europe.
“Kiss is an established wildlife artist. His landscapes and animals are attractive and accurate…Kiss adds many features to his paintings that expand the usefulness, perhaps even the play value of the book.”
–Book Review Digest
“…[a] lavishly illustrated alphabet book…Wildlife artist Andrew Kiss offers 26 spectacular mountain perspectives. A real WOW!”
“The illustrations are magnificent and contain a wealth of information without being cluttered.”
–Canadian Children’s Literature
“Bold, rich colours and perspectives and lyrical language combine to create an exquisite experience… Andrew Kiss draws viewers inside the scene and transports them.”
“The quality of the paintings and text could each stand alone…The love of wildlife and the outdoors is obvious in both the paintings and the text.”
“Kiss’s full-page paintings of mountain scenery are visually stunning.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“Andrew Kiss’s paintings perfectly capture the majesty of the mountains.”
–Owen Sound Sunday Times
“A delightful, beautiful book…”
–Christian Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
A black bear browsing on berries, a moose in the morning mist, a wolf walking through a winter wonderland - welcome to an alliterative journey through the magnificent mountains of western North America. Each painting captures a special mountain mood and invites readers to discover intriguing animals, plants, and even a letter of the alphabet. Thus a beautifully illustrated nature book becomes a puzzle book as well - one which young naturalists will spend hours exploring, discovering all the plants and animals found among the words listed at the back of the book. Truly a book for all ages, A Mountain Alphabet combines detailed information about our mountain landscapes with beautiful works of art. Objects that begin with a particular letter are waiting to be discovered in each of the twenty-six full-color paintings. A line of alliterative text describes the treasures of nature shown in each one. At the back of the book is a list of all the things that begin with each letter as well as detailed information about each setting painted. To encourage close observation of the illustrations, the artist has hidden a particular letter of the alphabet in each painting. The lyrical text and useful notes make this book as informative as it is beautiful.
Teacher-librarians may want to prepare cards for the library collection and use throughout the school. Use two paperback editions of A Mountain Alphabet. Take the books apart so that each letter of the alphabet can be mounted and laminated.
Introduce the book:
• Show a copy of the book and tell students that it is much more than an alphabet book; it is also a puzzle book packed with information. Explain that one letter of the alphabet is hidden in each painting.
• Distribute the cards, one per student and, for younger children, allow approximately five minutes for them to find their assigned letter. (As far as possible, letters may be assigned matching students' initials.)
• Allow another five minutes for students to list as many plants and animals as they can find on their card. Reference books may be used.
• Shuffle the cards and redistribute them to repeat the exercise.
• Have students in turn read their card aloud.
• Mount the individual pages in order on a bulletin board or blackboard.
• Make a classroom chart with two columns: ANIMALS and PLANTS. Use one color on the chart to list all the names that the class can identify on each page over a period of a few days or a week. When everyone is "stuck," check the list at the back and add to the chart in a different color any names that were missed.
• Have several reference books available for identification and further information about unfamiliar species of animals and plants. Have students take another look at all the pictures to identify the species they aren't familiar with.
• Have students reread their page to the class, sharing information about one new animal and one new plant that they learned about.
• Display a variety of alphabet books from simple one-word-for-each-letter books to more complex examples. Discuss the author or illustrator's interpretation of art and language.
• Have students list all the outdoor activities shown in the paintings. These could be charted in a separate column with the plants and animals.
ENVIRONMENT / ECOLOGY:
• Discuss how mountains affect our way of life and how they help provide some of our basic needs: • water (snow and ice) for reservoirs
• rivers that flow to the ocean, providing transport; silt in deltas for farming, and habitat for fish
• minerals for mining
• trees for the forest industry
• a natural environment for a wide range of plants and animals
• a natural environment for sports and recreation
SOCIAL STUDIES / PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY:
• Use a world map and/or an atlas. Have students locate the Alps in Europe, the Himalayas in Asia, the Andes in South America, and the Coast Ranges and Rockies in North America. Have students use the key or legend to compare the elevations of the various mountain ranges of the world.
• Focus on the Rockies and the Coast Ranges to have students determine how colors are used to show elevation. Find the names of some of the highest peaks.
• Use several reference books from the school library. Have students research the ways mountains are formed: volcanic explosions, ice-age formations, and sedimentary strata thrust upwards through pressure. Have them determine how the Rockies and the Coast Ranges were formed.
• Discuss how mountains change over time and what causes the changes: a) natural forces: wind, ice, snow, glaciers, rain, running water, b) man-made forces: forestry overcutting, logging roads that allow increased progression of natural forces.
a) Why is conservation of natural resources important?
b) What are some conservation measures now in place?
c) What is sustainable logging?
• Compare the naturalistic style of art by Andrew Kiss in A Mountain Alphabet with more interpretive styles, for example, the later works of members of the Group of Seven, or Emily Carr.
• Compare the various effects produced by different mediums, for example, oil paintings by Andrew Kiss in A Mountain Alphabet and watercolor paintings by Tony Onley.
• Art and language enrichment activity: Have pairs of students design a travel brochure to advertise a holiday in a mountain region. Have several brochures for other areas available for reference and to use as models. Consider the recipients and their needs. What facilities might they want? What interests would the people who receive these brochures have? Consider the balance of information and illustration.
ENGLISH / LANGUAGE ARTS:
• Have the students make their own alphabet book as a class project. Decide on the subject; perhaps their own school, town, or neighborhood. Have each student be responsible for one or two pages. Challenge them to write sentences with words beginning with only their initial letter. (Exceptions may be made for rarely used letters.)
• Language appreciation and grammar: Teachers can easily develop a chart using students' information from "their" page of the book. Answers must be based on the initial letter and the correct context of the word in the sentence.
• Use the laminated pages for descriptive paragraph writing. Have students examine the background first (as a painter paints the background first), describe it in a sentence, and then move forward in the illustration, continuing to build the description. The words of the author may be incorporated into the paragraph.
• Take one page and have students imagine it as a postcard that they are sending to a friend. Have them write about the experiences and activities in this scene. Alternatively, copy one of the illustrations on one side of a postcard-size sheet of stiff paper and have students write their message on the other side. Let them mail the postcard to a friend or relative.
• Enrichment for older students: Debate the conflicting positions of protecting nature versus needing to build a country's economy on natural resources.
OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST
John Burningham's ABC by John Burningham
The ABC Bunny by Wanda Gag
Animal Alphabet by Bert Kitchen
Anno's Alphabet by Mitsumasa Anno
Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove, Illustrated by L&D Dillon
A Northern Alphabet by Ted Harrison
Play Mas'! A Carnival ABC by Dirk McLean, illustrated by Ras Stone
A Prairie Alphabet by Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet, Illustrated by Yvette Moore
A Seaside Alphabet by Donna Grassby, illustrated by Susan Tooke
The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg