Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes

Gillingham, Sara (Author/Illustrator)
Phaidon 2016. 120 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9780714871431 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 623.8
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

layout, multimodal, recurring patterns, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This book introduces four nautical languages: signal flags, the phonetic alphabet, Morse code and semaphore. As the introduction explains, most of our day-to-day items are transported by ships. While we have modern communication tools now, sometimes those tools fail and ships must resort to using these original codes.

Each page is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet. The F or Foxtrot Flag, for example, is white with a red diamond and means “I am disabled; communicate with me.” As the text explains, “if a captain or crew sees a FOXTROT flag flying, they will try and make contact with the broken ship by using radio, hoisting a flag, or using Morse code with a signal lamp to find out how they can help.” The semaphore illustration portrays a cartoon sailor with two flags, the right pointing down and the left straight out. The Juliet flag means “I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board: Keep well clear of me” and the Oscar flag indicates “Man overboard.”

The text is simple but practical and comprised of two short explanatory paragraphs per flag. The computer-generated illustrations are precise and minimalistic, featuring different types of boats, from fishing boats to cargo ships, but with little detail and a palette of mostly greys with solid primary colours. The end of the book features all the flags, codes and signs, along with a glossary of nautical terms.

  •  

    What is a code? Discuss how to recognize codes. What is their purpose? Where do they come from?

  •  

    Write a message using the phonetic alphabet code (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) or Morse code. Exchange with a partner and decode each other’s messages.

  •  

    Create your own code, with a legend as a memory aid, and write a coded message. Exchange with a partner and decode each other’s messages, using the legends.

  •  

    Write a story that takes place on the high seas. Perhaps there has been a storm, or a ship is disabled or in danger. Include the use of semaphore flags or phonetic alphabet flags as the form of communication between vessels.

  •  

    What is a code? Discuss how to recognize codes. What is their purpose? Where do they come from?

  •  

    What do you notice about the shapes, colours and patterns of the flags? Note their meanings. Why are they used?

  •  

    Write a message using the phonetic alphabet code (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) or Morse code. Exchange with a partner and decode each other’s messages.

  •  

    Discuss which of the featured boats you might find in your area.

  •  

    Create and use coded messages to express needs that are common to your classroom: It’s too loud. I need help. May I go to the washroom? I need a pencil.

  •  

    With a partner, guess and write down the phonetic alphabet word for each letter. The first three are already done for you: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie.

  •  

    As you read, use memorization strategies to learn the words associated with each letter. Why were these particular words chosen?

  •  

    In a group of three or four, conduct a phonetic spelling bee. List five words associated with the sea. Take turns saying a word and asking another student to spell it using the phonetic alphabet.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences