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Anna All Year Round by Mary Downing Hahn

Anna All Year Round

by Mary Downing Hahn

Other authors: Diane De Groat (Illustrator)

Series: Anna - Hahn (1)

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Although [b:Anna All Year Round|541522|Anna All Year Round|Mary Downing Hahn|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1175642555s/541522.jpg|528880], 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 context 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). ( )
  gundulabaehre | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hahn, Mary Downingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Groat, DianeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0395869757, Hardcover)

Eight-year-old Anna enjoys one exciting experience after another in this charming story set in Baltimore just before World War I. She gets a new winter coat that's even better than Rosa's, rollerskates down the steepest hill in the neighborhood, and rides the trolley all by herself. And she delights in the changes occurring in the world around her, as motorcars and electric lights appear for the first time on her street. Based on the childhood experiences of the author's mother, these heartwarming episodes touch on timeless themes of family, friends, and the wonders of growing up.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Eight-year-old Anna experiences a series of episodes, some that are funny, others sad, involving friends and family during a year in Baltimore just before World War I.

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