One-Minute Book Reviews

August 10, 2007

A Children’s Book That Honors the Men and Women of the U.S. Military

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:07 pm
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An explanation of the military alphabet in a Golf Oscar Oscar Delta, Bravo Oscar Oscar Kilo

Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Military Alphabet. By Chris L. Demarest. Margaret K. McElderry, 32 pp., $16.95. Ages 4 and up.

By Janice Harayda

The buzz this week might be about Lone Survivor (Little, Brown, $24.99), Marcus Luttrell’s book for adults about the dangerous work of Navy SEALs in Afghanistan. But you can also find good children’s books about servicemen and -women, including picture books that honor both veterans of past wars and those who are serving in Iraq.

One of the best is Chris Demarest’s Alpha Bravo Charlie. This vibrant picture book introduces children to the International Communications Alphabet (ICA) used in the U.S. military and in civil aviation worldwide. It also gives an excellent overview of the many kinds of jobs performed by U.S. servicemen and -women.

Each page or spread in Alpha Bravo Charlie shows a letter of the English alphabet and its military counterpart and signal flag. Then a picture and line of text illustrate the use of the letter. The page for M (MIKE in the ICA) shows a man and woman in scrubs dashing toward an arriving helicopter emblazoned with a Red Cross: “Medical personnel work to save lives at mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) units.”

Alpha Bravo Charlie is intended for children old enough to enjoy words or phrases like “flak jacket” (F or FOXTROT) and “Nuclear Class submarine” (N or NOVEMBER). But it could also make a great baby gift for the child or grandchild of a proud U.S. veteran. It depicts the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and even those of us who soldier at computers. The page for J (JULIET) reads: “Journalists travel in jeeps to report news from the front lines.”

Best line or picture: The page for W (WHISKEY), which shows ugly but ferocious-looking U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts (“Warthogs”). You’ll understand how those planes got their nickname after seeing this one.

Worst line or picture: A line in an author’s note at the end, which explains how the military and later the airline industry adopted the ICA. “When service people transfer information verbally, confusion between certain letters, such as the similar-sounding B and D, could bring disastrous results.” Good information. But “orally” would have been better than “verbally,” which means “with words” and can apply to spoken or written words.

Recommendation? This is the rare alphabet book that could appeal to children who have long since learned their ABC’s.

Published: June 2005

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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  1. Thank you for this review. I like to have a variety of alphabet books in the curriculum collection, and this will be a good one to add.

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — August 10, 2007 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  2. My pleasure. “Alpha Bravo Charlie” seems a great book for Texas, because it has such large military bases.

    By the way, this one was recommended by a children’s librarian at my library. I was going to do a round-up of alphabet books, so I pulled a few of my favorites, including Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Z Was Zapped.” Then I asked the librarians for their favorites, and one picked this one. And I really liked it because it’s one of the few alphabet books I’ve seen (maybe the only one) that would appeal both to children who are learning their letters and those who know them but would enjoy the pictures of things like an Abrams tank and C-130 cargo plane (both used in Iraq, the book says).

    What’s your favorite alphabet book?

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — August 10, 2007 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  3. That’s a tough question – there are so many good ones! One that I picked up at a used book sale and even brought with me when I moved cross-country was “Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet” written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. I am fascinated by quilting and the stories behind many patchwork blocks and quilt patterns, and this book was a good introduction.

    Another that I like is “Alison’s Zinnia” written and illustrated by Anita Lobel. Each page is dominated by gorgeous and accurate illustrations of a flower that begins with that letter, and a single sentence that links a girl’s name and a verb beginning with the same letter to the flower being given to the next girl in the alphabet: “Florence found a Forget-me-not for Gloria,” “Gloria grew a Gaillardia for Heather,” and so on.

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — August 11, 2007 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  4. Those both sound terrific. I hope some of the parents visiting this site will check them out. Thanks!

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — August 11, 2007 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

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