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D Is for Down Under: An Australian Alphabet Review by Melissa Cummings

Devon Scillian
Sleeping Bear Press
27500 Drake Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Having never been to the island of Australia, but having always been intrigued by this far away land, I was excited to hold this book in my hands and take a journey through its pages. D Is for Down Under is not only educational but truly fun. Walking through the alphabet, we are given 26 glimpses into the culture of Australia. Each letter highlights a particular place, animal, tradition, hobby, or colloquialism from this delightful continent, beginning with a poem to grab your attention and then drawing you in deeper with detailed, educational text. From A for Aborigines and J for Jackaroos (or Jillaroos) to M for Mate and V for Vegemite, there is a great combination of fun facts and serious specifics. You and your child will want to read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.

Illustrator Geoff Cook brings a native Australian flavor to the artistry depicted in D Is for Down Under. It simply can't get better than having an actual resident of Melbourne paint accurate representations of his continent's culture and locale. Bright colors, clever contrasts, and almost cartoon-like images jump off every page.

The price ($18) is very reasonable for such a complete book. The pages are thick, the colors are bright, and the dimensions are large and inviting. My toddler likes the vibrant illustrations but is not quite ready for the depth of language included in this book. He enjoys the pictures and poems, but he will need to grow into the more educational paragraphs. I am looking forward to incorporating this book into our homeschool lessons when studying geography and culture. D Is for Down Under would appeal to a wide age range, perhaps especially the elementary stage. This book has inspired me to visit Australia someday and also to look into more Discover the World titles from Sleeping Bear Press. One of those goals will simply be easier to accomplish than the other!

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2010