Literature Review: No Antarktīdas līdz Zilonim

Līga Horgana is back with a literature review of No Antarktīdas līdz zilonim, an illustrated children's word book by Krista Blūma and Vilmārs Blūms.

Every so often, my daughters get invited to their friends’ birthday parties. To find a gift, I go to the book store and spend quite a long time researching the shelves of children’s literature, a process I actually enjoy a lot. This time, I found a beautiful picture book which I am sure will please not only the five-year-old but the rest of her family as well with its vividly colorful illustrations.

No Antarktīdas līdz zilonim ("From Antarctica to an Elephant" – in Latvian the title refers to the first and last letters of the alphabet) by Krista Blūma and Vilmārs Blūms, published by Jāņa Rozes apgāds in 2021, is a bilingual picture book that illustrates a wide range of vocabulary – words and short phrases – in Latvian and English.  On one hand, it seems a lot like a “my first word” type book that introduces kids to the world around them. The authors have even admitted that the biggest inspiration to create the work was their two kids. However, I wouldn’t call this a typical children’s book because besides containing typical topics such as shapes, colors, seasons, fruits and vegetables, it starts with some pretty unusual topics such as names of the planets, gemstones and moon phases, functioning as an illustrated dictionary. I personally liked the last few pages where nicely illustrated continents and parts of the world were complimented by the animals that are characteristic to each of those places. At the very end of the book, the reader will find an A3-size poster of the Latvian alphabet that can be placed on the wall of a kid’s room or in a classroom.

Of course, what stands out about this work is its illustrations; they are the reason the book was created in the first place. Although Krista Blūma doesn’t call herself an artist, her artistic talent, hobby of painting, and rising interest in Montessori pedagogy has resulted in many vivid, bright, realistic watercolor paintings for educational posters. In fact No Antarktīdas līdz zilonim is essentially a gallery of her posters. Each page is clear, finished and can be seen as a whole separate part of the book. 

I do like No Antarktīdas līdz zilonim a lot as a mum who has also had an interest in Montessori pedagogy, as a language teacher who sees this book as a useful material in teaching vocabulary, and also just as someone who deep inside still hopes to eventually find time for my hobby – painting. 

To see how the book looks, you can wath this YouTube video. You can also check out their Etsy page to see more artwork.

Make sure to press "subscribe" at the top of the page to know when every new literature review and other great articles about Latvia will be released, and like us on Facebook for important stories of the day each evening!