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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The same backdrops are shown four times in one year so kids can pick out which things are specific to each season, such as pumpkins in the fall and heavy coats in the winter. And with many people and animals moving through scenes, kids can follow different story lines each time they read and read clues to figure out what's going to happen next. Matthew drops his wallet and keys while running, and a girl picks them up. What happens next? They're starting to build a kindergarten in the winter. What do you think it will look like by spring? A woman walks down the street reading a book and not looking where she's going. Uh-oh!
Many small gestures -- such as wallets returned, presents purchased for parties, fish awarded to cute cats -- show this is a nice place to live and work.
Positive Role Models
People are usually nice and helpful. However, the occasional person kicks a broken ticket machine or uses grabby hands in a preschool, plus a handful of people smoke around town and drink in bars.
Violence & Scariness
A man slips on a banana and needs a Band-Aid, a car crashes and no one is injured, a ball is kicked through a shop window, lightning lights up the sky in a sudden rain storm. A car catches fire way in the background of one frame.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that In the Town All Year 'Round is mostly wordless oversize book with many characters and story lines in each setting shown in four seasons. It lends itself to multiple readings and lots of discussion about how each setting looks as seasons change and how each thing that happens to a character -- such as a hat lost in one scene -- will have a consequence later (a visit to a hat shop downtown). Expect a handful of smokers peppered throughout the town and two bars serving drinks. Two kids snicker at a painting of a naked woman in an art museum, one woman is shown in her underwear peeking out of a dressing room, and a couple kisses in the street. The worst thing to happen to characters: a small car crash with no injuries and a slip on a banana peel that requires a Band-Aid.
Is It Any Good?
IN THE TOWN ALL YEAR 'ROUND is the kind of great, nearly wordless story you'll pore over for hours with kids. There are so many details and stories to take in. Where's the parrot on this page? Will the woman notice that a donkey is nibbling on her produce while she's talking to the grocer? Why is that guy giving a swift kick to a ticket machine? Will that girl who picked up Matthew's wallet and key catch him before he runs away?
Then the season changes and the frames are the same, but not exactly. New questions emerge. Now there's a big dinosaur at the community center. What used to be there? What looks different about the kindergarten building? Which activities are kids doing at the lake? Why don't they have their ice skates on anymore? It's hard to get through more than a season at one bedtime reading so you can test kids' memories while you go. Pretty soon they'll be experts at picking out every detail, building essential learning skills while having a lot of fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.