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News Release


Discover the Alphabet for the First Time… All over Again

Ottawa  -  June 12, 2003  --  Do you remember how you learned the alphabet? Do you still own the book that helped you master your ABCs? If you don’t, we might! As part of The Fun of Reading: International Forum on Canadian Children’s Literature, the Library and Archives of Canada recently opened a new exhibit entitled Beyond the Letters  -  Retrospective of Canadian Alphabet Books.

Beyond the Letters is a special exhibit that takes Canadians on a unique tour of some of the fantastic and imaginative alphabetical offerings that Canadian writers and illustrators have created over the last 150 years in an effort to encourage the imaginations of our very youngest readers.

The exhibit includes more than 35 alphabet books, published in English and French, that have shaped our way at looking not just at the letters of the alphabet but also at ourselves as a nation. You will find books like ABC by Elizabeth Cleaver, By the Sea by Anne Blades, L’Abécédaire des robots by Alexis Lefrançois, and original illustrations and works of art from some of Canada’s best-known illustrators such as Roger Paré, Elizabeth Cleaver, Ann Blades, Alan Daniel, Isabelle Beaudin and Marjolaine Bonenfant.

"In the final analysis, of course, all these alphabet books are clearly Canadian. They encompass our sense of who we imagine we are as Canadians as well as how we’d like to be seen here at home and abroad," said Jeffrey Canton, guest curator for the exhibit. "They happily exploit our gift for humour and our delight in wordplay."

The exhibit Beyond the Letters  -  Retrospective of Canadian Alphabet Books continues at the Library and Archives of Canada until September 8, 2003, in exhibition room D, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Admission is free.

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Pauline Portelance
Media Relations
Library and Archives of Canada