Foods, festivals, and frolics mingle in this 12-month tour through England’s calendar of traditions old and, well, older.
Multiculturalism is definitely the order of the day. Five children of diverse ancestry introduce themselves with greetings from “Hiya” to “Namaste!” and “Witam!” They then squire viewers month by month past occasions ranging from catching a double-decker school bus to Commonwealth Day, Pongal, and Eid al-Fitr. Tables display Yorkshire puddings and mushy peas in January and paratha and sarnies in September; favorite activities include cheese rolling and gathering for a Boxing Day viewing of The Snowman on the telly—perhaps with some of Mum’s fruit mince pie and mulled wine for refreshments. A similarly varied cast poses in companion A Scottish Year amid somewhat more parochial nods to neeps and tatties, whisky and haggis, An Fhèis Mhór, and St Andrew’s Day. The scattered one-sentence comments in both titles may leave non-Anglophiles in the dark about, for instance, the Blackpool Illuminations, but they generally convey the gist of each event, and the cartoon illustrations put up bright faces and spots of color even for such solemn occasions as Remembrance Day. Each volume closes with a highly stylized map, plus a proper if too-inconspicuous disclaimer that the aim was to be inclusive rather than comprehensive.
No more than a quick shuffle, but for young readers who can Mind the Gap, the flavour does come through. (Informational picture book. 6-8)