Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

In the Town All Year 'Round

In the Town All Year 'Round

Rotraut Susanne Berner
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 12
Chronicle Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0811864749

It is a grey, overcast winter day. The residents of the apartment building are all up and about. Andrea has overslept and has missed her bus. Ella and Andrew are supposed to be going to the dentist but their pet parrot has escaped and now they have to try to catch the wily bird. They chase after the parrot on their bicycle, and on the way they pass Emma, who is walking down the road carrying her ice skates. Chloe is at the garage getting her car fixed, and someone has dropped a wallet and a key on the sidewalk. By the time everyone gets to town it is snowing and Ella and Andrew now have their parrot back. A Christmas fair is in full swing and the spirit of the season is bright in the hearts of the people.

Now it is spring and a new pictorial story unfolds before our eyes. Fred is off to town and he pulls a wagon behind him. Isabella and her dog Max are going for a walk, and Suzie is off on her scooter. At the train station Hannah picks up Abigail and we see Fred walking along pulling his wagon behind him. In town Abigail and Hannah attend a lecture, poor Matthew slips and falls, and Suzie realizes that she has lost something.

More stories unfold in the summer and fall, and adventures of all kinds take place. For each season the stories are spread over a series of pages and in each case we visit the same seven places beginning with the apartment house building and ending with the park in town. We rather feel as if we are moving along with the characters, walking down the streets, visiting the shops, and interacting with the people. Often the same characters appear and we see how relationships develop between these characters as the year unfolds.

Before each seasonal adventure begins, we are introduced to some of the characters, we read about what they are going to do in this chapter of their year, and we are even presented with puzzles to solve and things to look for.

Readers will be able to spend hours perusing the pages of this wonderful large format picture book.  As it has very few words in it, even very young children will be able to follow the stories, and they will also enjoy making up stories of their own as they explore the scenes that the author presents them with.