Reviews /

2023 Nature Month-by-Month: A Children’s Almanac

Authored by Anna Wilson and Elly Jahnz
Published by Nosy Crow

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Anna Wilson and Elly Jahnz have compiled a beautiful, varied and informative almanac for 2023. With different fonts, colours, sections and a plethora of illustrations this book is sure to be dipped into again and again.

If children’s literature, both fictional and non-fictional, offers a representation of our society then this is certainly one to embrace. The illustrations show a diverse range of characters enjoying what the outdoors (and occasionally the indoors) has to offer. Each month contains a list of ‘Special Days’, ‘Anniversaries’ and ‘Festival Fun’ with January, to take but one example, noting New Year’s Day/ First-footing, Twelfth Night/Wassailing, Epiphany, Lorhi, Chinese New Year and Burns Night. Each month has recipes and or crafts to try – since we’re now in November, it seems logical to turn to it, and the time is right apparently, to make leaf confetti, chocolate sauce pear pudding, and a rangoli. Should it ever stop raining there are also suggestions of things to look for and do while on a walk – take a paint chart and find things in the woods of the right shade of brown/green/ red (you might be the next Dulux shade namer – ‘essence of twig’ sounds like a seller), brighten up a ‘winter walk that can seem boring’ with a game of ‘Foxes and Hares’ and you know, this is an almanac endorsed by The National Trust, so remember you’re in Britain, and get your wellies and a coat on and embrace the rain – if there’s a soggy snack to be had then all the better – there’ll be a recipe for that too!

There are ‘Did you know…’ facts liberally scattered round the months, lists of creatures to spot – any arachnophobe should watch out for September’s ‘Can you Spot…’  and ‘Six Spidery Facts’ and read it at their peril! What I loved about this book though was the variety – the range of history from the beginning of the NHS to the Bristol Bus Boycott to the death of Cleopatra; the discussion of ‘things to spot’ from the height of the night skies to the depths of the sea – not forgetting the animals, fruits and vegetables growing in between!

It’s the kind of book parents and children can slip into a day bag and whip out to stave off the boredom of waiting for a train or a medical appointment. Or that you can store in the reading corner and be sure there will be a couple of heads crowded round it searching for what happens in ‘my birthday month’. While some of the anniversaries might talk about the first episode of Dr Who on the telly (1963 in case you’re wondering) or the 1933 premiere of King Kong at the cinema, there’s not a screen of any type in sight, or for that matter a car, or a delivery of your online shop. There are bikes, boats and plenty of wellies – this is a book that will remind its readers of all the outdoors has to offer – even if they happen to be reading it while snuggled up on the sofa in their new oodie.