Friday, September 01, 2017

An English Year

An English Year: Twelve Months in the Life of England's Kids. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: January is cold and wet and dark.

Premise/plot: Readers are introduced to five (fictional) children: Victoria, Aman, Tandi, George, and Amelia. Each child 'represents' a culture or heritage. (For example, Aman is Indian and Tandi is Jamaican. Amelia is an immigrant who has just started to learn English.) These children will pop up in the illustrations throughout the book. Each month has a two-page spread. And is packed with small illustrations and text. The text is not in bullet-form though it might as well be. The book doesn't have much narrative flow.

  • Six Nations Rugby begins.
  • Dad makes Bacon butties.
  • The first snowdrops appear in our garden.
  • On pancake day, people flip pancakes while running down the street.
  • At birthday parties, we play lots of games. Dad tries to give us The Bumps. (Pass-the-Parcel, musical chairs, pinata)
  • We get busy after school. (ballet, cub scouts and brownies, judo, gymnastics)
  • Mum bakes Victoria sponge and apple crumble.
  • We have a short school holiday.
  • On Valentine's Day, we give cards to our sweethearts.
  • When it's cold outside, we play by the radiator. (dollhouse, iPad, lego)

My thoughts: It was an interesting read. It is for older readers probably. I don't see it being a great read aloud. I liked that it has lots of facts. But the facts come so quick and steady that there really isn't time for more. Nothing is really explained in detail. Which is fine for sentences like: "Bobbies help us cross busy London streets." or "We pick blackberries and try not to eat them on the way home." But some sentences leave you wanting more. For example, "Mum makes the Christmas pudding on Stir-Up Sunday." or "Granny and Grandad go to The Proms." or "Pisanki eggs are decorated with traditional designs."

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Joy Weese Moll said...

Intriguing concept, but I'd want a bit more story and I definitely need an explanation for The Proms and Pisanki. I actually know about stir-up Sunday because I read Christmas novellas back when they were popular in the 90s.

Cee Arr @ Dora Reads said...

I get the feeling, from the fact that the book title says England, but the flag on the umbrella is the British flag, that this falls into the trap of confusing England with Britain as a whole. The UK is more than just England; it's certainly more than England in a middle-class, idealised, way, which is what the aspects you point out add up to when put together. *sighs*

Still, I feel like this comment is very negative - and you didn't write the book - so have a smile: :)