October 29, 2015

All Year Round

by Émilie Leduc
Translated by Shelley Tanaka
Groundwood Books
28 pp.
Ages 2-5
August 2015

All Year Round is sure to become a teacher favourite for the teaching of the months of the year and all year round! It’s original French-launguage edition, La ronde des mois (Éditions de la courte échelle, 2012) has already garnered author-illustrator Émilie Leduc much acclaim as a Governor General finalist for illustration in French-language children’s literature, and now, through Shelley Tanaka’s astute translation, All Year Round can be enjoyed by all Canadian children in both official languages.

Before even examining the content of All Year Round, it becomes evident that much effort has been put in organizing the picture book into a visually-appealing and child-friendly format.  Its consistency will first and foremost be a compelling read for teachers and parents to little ones.  There is one double spread for each month of the year.  Except for June and November whose illustrations cover both pages, there is one full-page illustration on the right side of the spread (see October’s spread below) and on the left-hand side there is the free verse accompanying text, titled with the name of the month, and a small complementary artwork.

Émilie Leduc’s illustrations will be immediately identified as soft.  There’s a feel of rich oil pastels with blurred edges, though I read that she actually used coloured pencil on Mylar.  The Mylar paper gives a frosted, translucency to the artwork, perfect for her engaging child (who features in each spread and whose words, spoken in first person, are the basis for the book).  The broad-faced child traipses through the snows of January and February, enjoying a hot chocolate in the latter; celebrating a birthday in March; staying dry in April; communing with flowers in May; cycling in June; swimming in July; sand-sculpting on the beach in August; swinging amongst the falling leaves at the playground in September; costumed with a pumpkin for Halloween; and back to the snows in November and December.  Just like the year, All Year Round comes full circle.

And it’s evident from the text that the young boy finds everything he experiences, inside and outside his home, to be part of a sensory exploration that he enthusiastically relishes.  From his swimming “skin all pruney” in July, or the teasing winds of September, or tromping through the forest “Crunch! Swoosh!” in January, the little boy takes in everything that he sees, feels, hears and shares with his cat, Clementine.

All Year Round will be a welcome teaching tool but enjoy it with little ones as a refreshing exploratory of the senses by a much-loved little boy and cat as they traverse their world together both temporally and spatially.

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