AN ILLUSTRATED COMIC ALPHABET
Designed by Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon
For hundreds of years children have joyfully chanted the comic rhyme 'A was an Archer and shot at a frog.' This entertaining version, which appeared first in England in the eighteenth century, was designed in 1859 by Miss Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon, a drawing teacher living in a small town in Canada.
The comic alphabet contains only twenty- four letters. This was the extent of the English alphabet until the sixteenth century, with I and U serving as both consonants and vowels. When the characters J and V were introduced, they were regarded as forms of I and U and were not differentiated as separate letters in dictionaries until the nineteenth century. Some versions of 'A was an Archer' use I and U; others use J and V, as this one does.
An Illustrated Comic Alphabet is the earliest known Canadian picture book. Now photographically reproduced and published for the first time, it includes a brief history of the book and a biography of Miss Howard- Gibbon, written by Judith St. John, Librarian in charge of the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, Toronto Public Library. The freshness and charm of the pictures, with their rural background and wealth of comic detail, make this an enchanting alphabet book, as well as an important item in the history of children's literature. 'Children's literature collections will surely want it.'
–School Library Journal
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