World Languages Review: Alle vier Jahreszeiten by Katrin Wiehle (Germany)

This is a beautiful large-scale nonfiction board book for young children. Each double spread depicts a glorious scene set in a particular season, with individual words picked out on the page.

Spring, for example, has a title reading “Im Frühling wird es draussen grün” (In Spring, outside everything turns green) and picks out words like Easter basket, watering can, bicycle, dandelion. Turn over the page and we find drawings of nine different spring flowers and their German names underneath each one. We are shown the life cycle of a daffodil bulb being planted, following its growth through to flowering. There are also illustrations of animals with their young, the names again included underneath. And so it continues throughout the whole year.

In 2007, a new version of the Oxford English Junior Dictionary was released. In it, around 40 words relating to nature had been removed from the previous edition for “not being used enough to merit their place in the dictionary“, which led to the creation of the book The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton, IBSN 9780241253588) to try and reintroduce children to these ideas. These “lost” words included acorn, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. This German book introduces many similar words from nature to a younger audience.  

The other great aspect of this board book is that it refers to itself as “100% Naturbuch” (100% Natural Book). It is printed on 100% recycled paper using eco-friendly inks. For fans of this book, Katrin Wiehle also has a number of other books in this style, including Mein großer Bauernhof (My Big Farm, IBSN 978-3407820846), Mein kleine Vogelbuch (My Little Book of Birds, IBSN 978-3407823342) and Mein großer Ozean (My Great Ocean, IBSN 978-3407812209).  

Alle vier Jahreszeiten (My Four Seasons)
Katrin Wielhe
2019, Beltz & Gelberg
IBSN 978-3-407-82143-0
16 pages
Large-scale Board Book
Age group 3+

Review by Claire Storey

Claire Storey is a British translator working from German and Spanish into English. She has a particular passion for children’s books and sharing her love of books and languages with anyone who will listen. 
Her website is www.clairestoreylanguages.co.uk, and her Twitter handle is @ClaireStorey16.

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