Alphabet book set in Ottawa

by Barbara Clubb

The first-ever children’s alphabet book set in Ottawa, An ABC of Ottawa, is a labour of love by two long-time Ottawa residents, Miriam Bloom and the late Julie Mason. Bloom has lived in Ottawa for 40 years; Mason was born at the Civic and attended Broadview Public School and Nepean High School. An ABC of Ottawa is a gorgeous 60-page paperback that was launched this year as part of Ottawa’s Canada 150 celebrations. Since then, Bloom has been invited to schools, bookstores and museums, and the book has been selling briskly over the summer all across the city.

While there are a number of generic alphabet books available, An ABC of Ottawa takes a local twist to encourage young readers. The authors relying on familiar Ottawa experiences and places to inspire kids to enjoy reading by using their own hometown and people they might know or encounter on the street to illustrate the alphabet.

The “K is for Kids” page features a photo of a youngster on a swing in a local park. That youngster is Scarlet Page, granddaughter of co-author and photographer Julie Mason. The photo was taken by Mason when Scarlet was about seven years old. Scarlet is now a lovely, poised young woman of 15 who really misses her grandmother.

“It’s cool,” says Scarlet when asked about seeing herself in print. “I like being in the book because my Grandma Julie did it. I’m really proud of her. I love her, I miss her and this book makes me think of her. It reminds me of how excited she got about things and how creative and fun she was. I really like knowing that she did this book. I wish that I had had it when I was a kid.”

But An ABC of Ottawa is more than just a book. Bloom has also created a Parent and Teacher Resource Guide to encourage using the book as a gateway to topics such as Canadian history and geography, the Canadian North and art. She has also developed and leads a popular series of related craft activities at events at local museums, bookstores and other community venues.

Reviewers have been enthusiastic about An ABC of Ottawa. “Ottawa comes alive in this entertaining and spirited alphabet book featuring the city’s well-loved landmarks and symbols. It’s a lovely book to curl up with and look for familiar haunts and new spaces to explore, while learning to recognize letters, words and shapes. Highly recommended,” says Alexandra Yarrow, local librarian and president of Twice Upon a Time, an organization providing free books to Ottawa’s kids.

Author Miriam Bloom will be at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in the Glebe on Sunday, October 22, from noon to 3 p.m. to share stories of the creation and publication of the book, sign copies and lead a craft program based on the book. A copy of the book will be raffled for visitors to the store.

An ABC of Ottawa is available in the Glebe at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s, Octopus Books as well as online at www.miriambloomart.ca.

For more information: abc-bookottawa@gmail.com. www.miriambloomart.ca, ABC on Facebook.

Barbara Clubb is the retired City Librarian of the Ottawa Public Library. She volunteers in the areas of citizenship, child literacy and library facility development. Her delights are choral singing, keeping fit and stone painting.

An ABC of Ottawa
By Miriam Bloom
and Julie Mason
Ottawa: Miriam Bloom Art, 2017.
60 p. $17.95

05 Clubb

The first-ever children’s alphabet book set in Ottawa, An ABC of Ottawa, is a labour of love by two Ottawa residents, Miriam Bloom and the late Julie Mason. Photo: Julie Mason

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