Letters of the West by Michelle E. Walch and John Maddin and Illustrated by John Maddin

[I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.  No other compensation was received.]

Letters of the West: An ABC Book of the Many Plants, Animals, and Other Curious Features of the West Written by Michelle E. Walch and John Maddin; illustrated by John Maddin

Letters of the West: An ABC Book of the Many Plants, Animals, and Other Curious Features of the West Written by Michelle E. Walch and John Maddin; illustrated by John Maddin

Learn the English and Latin names of plants and animals in this alphabet book filled with gorgeous and accessibly sophisticated scratchboard illustrations.  This picture book is a beautiful tribute to our natural world and our alphabet.  The scratchboard illustrations are black and white with one to two colors highlighting each image.  The effect is profound — making it a perfect picture book for those wanting to introduce children of all ages to nature through the alphabet.

Letters of the West is an inspiring read that has led to priceless discussions and learning opportunities for our whole family.  Reading this book with my son is a joy!  He was particularly curious about how and why beavers are considered engineers, how mountain goats’ feet hold onto mountain cliffs, and what in the world is a prairie dog?  Once, shortly after reading this book, we saw a squirrel in our backyard.  He asked if it was a Douglas Squirrel — because a Douglas Squirrel is in the book under S.  Having no idea what kind of squirrels we have in our backyard, I took to the internet. We spent the next 45 minutes learning all about squirrels.  We’ve also looked up beavers, yucca, and turkey vultures after reading Letters of the West.  I am sure this wonderful book will lend itself to many more impromptu educational moments that I so dearly love to share with him.

Letters of the West is a creative, beautiful, and educational alphabet book that inspires a love and curiosity for our natural world.   Pair this book with Tracks Counts and you’ll have your ABC’s and 123’s down in no time.

Ages 3 – 7+. Craigmore Creations.  September 2014. 32 pages. ISBN:978-1940052106. Nonfiction.

Where to Get it:

You Should Read Letters of the West Because:

  • It gives a unique education of the natural world in 26 letters.
  • It deftly addresses the letter X.  Most picture books have to stretch and bend around this letter — but this one addresses it brilliantly and head on!
  • This book inspires excellent and urgent questions about our natural world.
  • The scratchboard art is gorgeous and breathtaking.  The illustrations are rich and detailed, slowing you down so you can take it all in.
  • Scratchboard is a wonderful art activity to do with young ones. This book has inspired me to introduce this technique to my son.  I look forward to trying it out with him.
  • It does a great job of incorporating the Latin names of plants and animals.  Which will lead to questions about “What is Latin?” and “Why do we use it for scientific names?” This will lead to Carl Linnaeus and the next thing you know you’re discussing how things should be classified with a four-year-old!
  • The text is simple enough to read to a baby and hold their interest, but complex enough to captivate adults from all walks of life.
  • Excellent vocabulary — alpenglow, stealthy, wading, arid, resplendent, hoarding, ubiquitous, cascading, and Xeriscape.

Author/Illustrator Websites:

More Reviews of this Book:  (Lots of praise!)

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher.  No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. jennie dare

    Cool–I’ve been talking about classification with my four year olds–and looking for a book that addresses it in a child-friendly way. Thanks!


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