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Anna All Year Round (2001)

Anna All Year Round (2001)

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3.72 of 5 Votes: 3
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038073317X (ISBN13: 9780380733170)

About book Anna All Year Round (2001)

Although Anna All Year Round, based on the childhood of author Mary Downing Hahn's own mother, is rather episodic (with not much of a plot and little narrative tension and excitement), the short, descriptive vignettes of early 20th century childhood (in Baltimore, Maryland) are pure delight; they might not be substantial, but they are sweet, caressing, and at the same time historically informative. Anna all Year Round is basically a year in the life of a girl with both German-American and Anglo-American roots and connections (Anna's mother is German, while her father is Anglo-American). I love how in Anna's family, German and Anglo-American traditions are seamlessly woven together (for example, Anna celebrates Christmas Eve with her mother's German relatives, while on Christmas Day, her father's relatives come visiting, the best of both traditions). I also appreaciate the fact that Mary Downing Hahn has peppered her narrative with a number of German words and expressions (that are also explained in a detailed glossary at the back of the book, which I think is an added bonus and will make it easier for readers not familiar with German to understand not only the meanings of the expressions, but also the contexts where the German expressions and words are used). And although I have to say that I found and continue to find Anna's mother a bit authoritative (and definitely not as easy-going and as accepting as Anna's father), I think that the author has portrayed a historically accurate picture of what many early 20th century mothers were like, wanting their daughters to act like "ladies" seeing more importance in good behaviour than in allowing their daughters to act like tomboys. As a person of German origin, I also found it heartening to actually find an English language children's book on Germans (on individuals of German background, of German origin) that does not have WWII and the Holocaust as a main theme. Don't get me wrong, I think the Holocaust is an important, essential topic, but it does often seem as though there are little enough English language children's books featuring German characters or characters of German origin, and that of the books available, a goodly number, perhaps even a majority seem to feature WWII and the Holocaust, understandable definitely, but also somewhat lamentable (because Germans, German Americans, German Canadians etc. are not or at least should not be only and primarily identified with and by the Nazi era).Diane deGroat's black and white illustrations provide a lovely and decorative mirror of the narrative, showing both traditions, fashions, the history of early 20th century America, as well as some of the traditions of Anna's own family (and while I don't think that I would call the illustrations personal favourites, they provide an informative and evocative complement to the text, to May Downing Hahn's delightful vignettes of early 20th century American, and German American childhood).

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