ABC books can be a bit repetitive, but Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai’i written by Vera Arita and illustrated by Mariko Merritt takes the traditional ABC book and turns it into a science lesson about ocean life around the Hawaiian Islands. A group of kids goes fishing with a hukilau net and instead of catching fish, catch the ABCs. The rhyming text is lyrical and uses the actual names of the ocean creatures and even some Hawaiian names in the rhymes, so the reader is learning about the ABCs and about fish like the Frogfish, Lionfish, Nai’a (dolphin) or Yellowtail filefish. What really sets this book apart though are the illustrations. They are amazing!

Merritt creates a look and find adventure with each letter perfectly matched to the ocean creature that starts with that letter. When I read this book with my son, I will point out the bright yellow Tang and then he will match it to the letter t of the same color. It is a great way for him to practice learning that sound and letter combinations that go together, plus he loves how it makes the book more interactive. The layered look of the illustrations adds to the beauty of the pictures and make the book engaging and interesting for the reader. The book ends with a photo glossary of the ocean creatures from the book with some neat facts about each one listed. It is a great way to start a journey of discovery.  I highly recommend this ABC book!