Alphabet Explosion! Search and Count from Alien to Zebra

Common Sense Media says

Artistic alphabet search is clever but tricky.





What parents need to know

Educational value

There are lots of objects that start with certain letters to search for on each page -- 22 As, for starters. It also brings up parts of speach, since not all the things kids search for are nouns.

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness
Not applicable
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's nothing objectionable in this book, but its alphabet searching game can be frustrating and too tricky at times, especially for its target audience of beginning readers.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

The book begins with instructions on how to play the game, what to count, and what not to count. After warning the reader that the game is tricky, pages present each letter of the alphabet with the challenge of finding a specific number of items starting with that letter. The answers are given at the back of the book.

Is it any good?


More an offbeat alphabet search game than a story, this book will test even the oldest readers. Young kids may be overwhelmed with the challenge of finding 22 A's or 45 S's. They may even find it impossible since not all the words are nouns, which can be hard for younger kids to understand. The mix of sounds -- hard and soft "c" sounds, for example -- may confuse beginning readers.

The brightly colored, playful illustrations in acrylics and spray paint on watercolor paper are inventive and inviting. The cartoon-like creatures will make kids want to play the game. But clever pictures may not make up for the obtuseness of some images; it's a little too ingenuous for its own good. Thank goodness a list of answers is presented at the back of the book.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about finding the answers on each page and how to not get too frustrated if you don't find as many A's or Q's as are suggested by the author. To help young readers, you can talk about the beginning sounds of words and the difference between the name of a letter and its sound. Since kids will have to search for nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you can also discuss the different jobs of those words. For example, after finding the zipper on the Z page, parents might help lead their child to the next Z by asking what the zebra is doing -- "zipping."

Book details

Author:John Nickle
Illustrator:John Nickle
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Schwartz & Wade
Publication date:October 31, 2006
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of Alphabet Explosion! Search and Count from Alien to Zebra was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 5 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 April 6, 2012

alphabet explosion

What other families should know
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