It’s winter in Bustletown, and there’s so much to see.
Each two-page spread of this oversized, wordless board book features a different area of Bustletown, including the train station, a local farm, and downtown. The scenes depict characters of all ages, such as baby Francis, who is tucked into a stroller; elementary-age Lena and Lisa; and gray-haired Anne, who has missed the bus. The scenes often present cutaways of buildings, such that readers can see the activity inside, not to mention the various birds and animals climbing across roofs and trees. The illustrations are detailed without overwhelming preschoolers, and the clever repetition of key characters (identified on the back) on each set of pages allows readers to weave together multiple, simultaneous narratives as the book progresses. Although some of these characters are pictured with dark skin and dark hair, most of them appear to be white. One of the few exceptions, a South American named Pedro who finds Bustletown “pretty cold,” wears stereotypical dress and does little more than tote a guitar around town. Furthermore, the book exclusively features Western, Christian iconography, including a prominently placed town church, a Christmas tree displayed at the cultural center, and what appears to be a Christmas market downtown. The lack of diverse main characters and religious traditions flattens an otherwise interesting book.
Beautifully illustrated but disappointingly homogeneous. (Board book. 2-5)