Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

B Is for Big Ben: An England Alphabet

B Is for Big Ben: An England Alphabet

Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrator:  Melanie Rose 
Nonfiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 6 to 11
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008   ISBN: 978-1585363056

The story of England’s early history is full invasions. The Celts were the first to arrive, followed by the Romans, and the Anglo-Saxons. The name England comes from a Saxon word “Angleland,” and Saxon kings ruled the country, defending it against Viking attacks for hundreds of years until the Normans invaded in 1066. For many English people reading about the early history of their country helps them to connect with their land.

Today, when non-English people think of England, they think of castles, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, queens and kings, the Union Jack, and famous English people such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Beatrix Potter, and Charles Darwin.

This book looks at all of these subjects and more. For every letter of the alphabet, some aspect of English life or history is explored in poetry, art, and informative prose. For example, on the G page we learn that the English celebrate Guy Fawkes Day every November 5th. In the sidebar the text tells about how, on November 5th, 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament and thus kill King James I. Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were caught before they could go through with their plan. In addition to this section of text there is a poem that tells of how English people “dance and sing” around bonfires on this day and the artwork shows people doing this.

The topic on the Q page is queens, “six in all,” two of whom were “the greatest monarchs / that England has ever known.” These two were Elizabeth I and Victoria, both of whom had long reigns and who gave their names to an age.

With well written information, splendid art, and memorable poetry, this alphabet book will take young readers on a splendid tour around England, giving them a sense of the history, traditions, and culture of this part of the world.

This is one in a series of "Discover the World" alphabet book titles published by Sleeping Bear Press.