Work: An Occupational ABC

Work is a 2014 publication from Groundwood Books, written and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka.

WorkABC_PLC_Square_KELLENThis is a unique ABC book that combines learning the alphabet with an array of interesting vocabulary for a variety of professions. No job is left out: jockeys and skateboarders work alongside aviators and naval architects.

PrintThe letters themselves become part of the scene and the figures often interact with them; as a lumberjack hacks down an L a mountaineer summits an altitudinous M. The cool, pale colours of the illustrations add a complexity that guides the tone of the book away from one of an action-packed whirlwind, suggesting serenity instead.

L+Mv2While the characters don’t have facial features, sometimes a face is pleasantly punctuated by a moustache or glasses. The absence of features is anything but an omission. The body language and dynamic motion of each illustration is wholly expressive.

This is an important alphabet book because it exposes early readers to unfamiliar and engaging language. I’ll sheepishly admit I don’t actually know what all of these professions are. Has anyone heard of a xenologist before? If you’re looking for a definition just flip to the amusing want ads at the back: “Xenologist: This is a job that’s really out of this world,” “Yogi: This is a great career for anyone looking for a job with flexibility.”

Kellen Hatanaka has a new book coming out in May called Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites.


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