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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Every community has a unique story to tell. Solvang, in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, was founded in the early 1900s by three Danish immigrants. The town that grew in this luscious coastal area evolved with a little bit of Danish culture, mixed with the driving force of the American way. Solvang is known as Little Denmark and there are at least 26 interesting features that define the town – features that cover the 26 letters of the alphabet. There are probably a lot more, but what an interesting way to learn about history, culture and the alphabet in one little book.
Jane Faulkner’s picture book, S is for Solvang: An ABC, is a unique approach to teaching young readers the alphabet while sharing some insight into the culture of a specific geographic region. Some of the words chosen for this collection are difficult for English speakers because they evolve from the Danish language and culture, as well as the aboriginal Chumash who inhabited the area before the Danish settled. For example: aebleskiver and Nojoqui Falls. The author helpfully provides phonetic pronunciation of the words and explains what they mean and what culture they derive from. The colorful illustrations make this into something of a tourist souvenir book or even a children’s version of a coffee table book. The book is introduced with a short paragraph outlining the town’s history. Each word is presented, described, and documented as to its historical or cultural significance to Solvang and each word is accompanied by a photograph. An interesting and charming book destined for young readers, but one that older readers will appreciate as well.