Book Review: An Annoying ABC


A perfectly peculiar picturebook for practical use. I can’t think of a better book to use for older kids. Yes, older. I know, I know, it’s an alphabet book, but this book doesn’t simply state that a is for apple. This book lends itself to lessons on verbs, proper nouns, alliteration and even natural consequences!

Before you can get a kid to learn anything you need to make them excited about the subject. This is especially important when you’re teaching something as dry and dusty as grammar.  Bottner and Emberlley’s book is a perfect way to spark their interest and to give them some practice. It’s a rather small book, so I wouldn’t necesserily suggest that it should be read alloud to a whole class. I would use it in small groups. The first day I would read it aloud to the group. They will meet the characters on the end papers and title pages as they march to their classroom. Each character has an individual and unique personality that is evident through their wardrobe. My personal favorite is Flora (who is seen under the letter F) because she looks like I did as a little kid, with jeans, a sweatshirt, and a backwards baseball hat. If I had seen a kid that looked like me as a kid I probably wouldn’t have felt so weird all the time.  The children are very politically correct. They are of every color, gender (and sex) (little Clyde holds flowers, Eloise has a big pink hat, Olivia wears a jersey, etc.), and ability (with little Ida sporting a pink wheelchair). And on page two they will see the annoying day unfold when Adelaide annoys Bailey. This causes Bailey to blame Clyde, which causes Clyde to cry, which causes Dexter to drool, and so on. The illustrations are lively and the content is unique and thrilling. Most students will connect well with it (especially if you, the teacher, read it with expression) which will make them more willing to work with it later on in the week.

I’ve seen some very boring lessons on verbs: “a verb is an action word, circle the verb in the sentence. Blah blah blah.” And these worksheets always use some really creative verbs like “run, walk, sit, bring, went.”  The only action these worksheets make me do is snore. An Annoying ABC  is a great tool for you to use to show them that verbs can really be fun. It shows them that verbs can be what we are. Bottner uses verbs like drooled, elbowed, fumed, howled, exploded, rumbled, stumbled, and tumbled. And she makes finding the verbs easy, which would have been very helpful to me as a kid, because she pairs a verb with each child and each verb begins with the same letter as the child who it’s paired with (with the exception of X), which is a perfect place to interject a mini lesson on alliteration. After explaining what verbs are and pointing them out and having the students find the verbs in the story, have each child write down the first name of everyone in the reading group (or you could do everyone in the classroom) and have them pair an annoying verb with each one of them. Don’t forget to have them share their favorite one!

There are so many other mini lessons you could do with An Annoying ABC. It can be used to teach your students that names are proper nouns. The capitalized first letter of every name is highlighted with a different color. It can be used to show how chain reactions work since each child is so irritated from the person who annoyed them that they annoy somebody else. And, of course, it can be used to teach the alphabet.

Whether you’re looking for an excellent book to read with your child, or a book that lends itself to a plethora of lessons, I highly recommend An Annoying ABC to you!

http://www.michaelemberley.com/

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