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OUR COLONIAL YEAR by Cheryl Harness

OUR COLONIAL YEAR

By Cheryl Harness (Author) , Cheryl Harness (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-83479-9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Harness’s attempt to portray common colonial-era activities through the seasons by pairing a scene set in each of the 13 colonies to a month (plus New Year to make it come out even) goes awry on several counts. Though arranged into four-line stanzas, the text neither rhymes nor follows any consistent rhythmic pattern, and so frequently falls flat: In September, “Children gather slates and books. / The teachers clang the bell. / They troop into the schoolhouse / where they’ll spend the crisp days learning.” Looking more surreal than cozy, the full-page paintings of busy young folk in period dress are overlaid with faint gingham, patchwork and quilt patterns. There’s some dissonance both in “April,” where a farmer’s work is described but it’s his wife who fills the foreground, and in “November,” where the line, “all give thanks at the autumn feast” probably doesn’t include the dark-skinned servants attending to a North Carolina family. Closing with a hard-to-decipher map, this effort falls well below the author’s usual standard. (Picture book. 7-9)