Hong Kong ABC

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am

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Rote learning may be the secret to stamping the alphabet on young minds, but for many parents ABC can also stand for 'a boring chore'.

More often than not, A is for apple, B is for bee and C, you guessed it, is for cat. Thankfully, an author has stepped in to shake up the traditional list with her own version, written especially for young children in Hong Kong.

In Diana Wu-David's Hong Kong ABC, A is for Aberdeen, B is for bao and C is for chopsticks. Junk boats get a mention, as do islands, lychees and noodles.

There's no boring xylophone or X-ray here. In this book, X is for xiong mao (panda), but disappointingly O is still for orange (although reference to a li xi gives it a local spin).

Each letter is accompanied by a short rhyme and brightly coloured illustrations by young artist Margaret Jung.

'D is for dim sum, a delicious breakfast treat. Following the clatter of steaming carts for all the dumplings you can eat!'

Hong Kong ABC is printed on 26 sturdy cardboard pages to better withstand heavy use by young hands.

It is Wu-David's first book. As a working mother who travels frequently, she says she struggled to find anything similar on the market to bring home to her children.

Aged five, four and one, all three children were born in Hong Kong, and Wu-David says she wanted to strengthen their ties with the city through their love of books.

'This is a way to instil a bit of pride in Hong Kong for them,' she says.

All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Room to Read, a US-based organisation that works to improve literacy in poorer countries. The organisation has built libraries in Vietnam and Cambodia, and provides school scholarships for girls who might otherwise be forced to drop out. For that reason alone, Hong Kong ABC is worth buying.

Verdict: a refreshing twist on traditional ABC books for local children and their friends abroad who want to know more about the city.

Available from Bookazine, Dymocks and other Hong Kong bookstores. Price: HK$88