Monday, December 14, 2015

A Scottish Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Scotland's Kids

A Scottish Year
written by Tania McCartney; illustrated by Tina Sterling
2015 (EK Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

We go fishing in the burn with Grandpa. 

In our second grade classroom, we have spent a few weeks working on comparing texts. Luckily, I have A Scottish Year to compare to the previously reviewed An English Year. Both books feature 5 children from different cultures that are part of their home country's tapestry. With Scotland, we have three children whose families are native Scots and two who hail from other countries (Pakistan and Poland). Each month is presented in a two page spread with colorful illustrations accompanying several one sentence descriptions of events taking place during that time. For example, in March bulbs start to sprout. This would be a good comparison to American gardens. Celebrations include Red Nose Day, which is an opportunity for citizens to get together to do something funny to raise money for charity. In Scotland, Mother's Day falls in March and clocks go spring forward for British Summer Time. In the back matter, you find a fabulous map of the regions of Scotland.

If you are teaching country studies as part of your holidays around the world unit, you would be wise to find this book. You can use it to compare to other countries and find similarities and differences. Did you know the unicorn is the official animal of Scotland? Me neither. This book is full of cool facts like this.With perhaps the exception of haggis, I'm ready to embrace A Scottish Year. Now to find a good strong coat for the weather!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

An English Year: Twelve Months in the Life of England's Kids

An English Year
written and illustrated by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling
2015 (EK Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

On Mother's Day, we spoil Mum with gifts and cards. We take her out for high tea. 

Pongal. Pancake Day. Morris Dancing. Netball. If you're not familiar with these events, you need to spend a year in England. Thanks to An English Year, you can do so from the comfort of your home. Five English children (Victoria, Aman, Tandi, George, and Amelia) take readers through a calendar year in their country. Each month gets a two page spread where several events, both special and everyday, are highlighted. For example, in August, you can play outside later because of the extended sunlight. Buckingham Palace is open to the public and blackberries are in season. Music lovers can go to The Proms, which are a series of classical music concerts and not a dance where you wear a dress or a tuxedo that you will regret later in life. Students will enjoy reading these nonfiction facts and viewing the cheery illustrations that accompany them. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the product map in the back matter with all of the English county locations. It greatly added to my English geographic knowledge.

This is a clever format to relay cultural information. Now I'm thinking about having my students create a book about our country and state to send to our friends in Denmark. It's also a good text to practice making connections and comparisons. Venn Diagrams were made for this! Tip your flat cap to this delightful picture book.