Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
If you have a small child, you need this book. It takes the same set of scenes and people through a year of seasons. That’s it. Not a complicated concept but so, so well done. It’s oversized and there are no words, just the narrative of the scenes, the people and the seasons.
The first spread is of a big house and garden and the street outside in the winter: little Christmas trees, a few decorations, a bus coming by, people doing their thing. The next is of the same street a little further on with new landscape, a garage, and so on. But here’s the key thing: the characters each have their own little plot going. One girl keeps losing her hat – a child pulls it off on the bus, the mom returns it to her, it falls off in another season while she’s on her scooter, and she keeps showing up in the hat shop on one the pages, buying a new weird hat. It’s fascinating for little ones to spot all the small details – a bee high up in a tree in the spring, a tiny cement truck in the background – and track the simple plot lines. Our daughter, for instance, is very concerned about a middle-aged man who loses his key and wallet while out jogging, and so happy that a little girl returns them to him a few pages on. We revisit the drama and resolution of it multiple times a day.
The author, Rotraut Susanne Berner, is German, so the book has a subtly European feel, which is lovely – not too antic around the Christmas scenes, nice parks, and so forth – but not so much that a little American child will feel foreign.
All Year Round has laminated paper pages that hold up well, but if you prefer a board book version, the individual seasons are available stateside in board copies, albeit with their German titles and little character notes also in German. (We speak Swiss German with Astrid, but obviously she cant’ read yet, being two, and she’s fine with the Herbst Wimmelbuch, as the autumn board book is titled.)
Have fun finding all the stories!