Around The Year was originally published in 1957, and is generally regarded as one of the author/illustrator's finest endeavors in picture-book form. Tudor has penned appropriate short verses to accompany four pages of delicately-detailed scenes for each month, two done in watercolor and two in pencil.
Miss Tudor is famous for her sensitive and accurate depictions of rural scenes of the past. I consider this book to be the pinnacle of her successful efforts in bringing the loveliness of by-gone days to the present-day young reader. Commonplace events such as running home during a springtime shower and ice-skating on a pond are given as much attention by the artist as are holiday-times and other special moments. Tudor's portrayal of children carving jack-o'lanterns for Halloween and the setting-off of firecrackers on America's Independence Day are quite memorable.
On each page, there is much to be shared between any adult and child reading the book together. The Thanksgiving scenes are particularly evocative (and timely) for the start of meaningful discussions between parents and children. Tudor's observant eye gathers the flora and fauna of New England and delivers them to the observer in a delightful, but natural manner. Throughout the pages, there is a charming lightheartedness and gentleness rare in today's children's books. The careful reader will also find moments of unexpected humor. I highly recommend this book for both its content and delivery to readers of all ages.
That said, I am livid with the publisher's decision to replace what I consider Tudor's finest dust-jacket design with a repeat of an image from the month of April--even though it's arguably the finest single composition presented in the book. The original painting of 12 miniature portraits featuring monthly activities (in a clockface pattern) coupled with a seasonal bird portrait in each corner is a tour-de-force in composition. It hints at the precious jewels to be found inside the book's covers, yet stands alone as a memorable work in itself.
To make matters worse, the original title-page featuring another twelve individual bird portraits each surrounded by Tudor's distinctive twig frames has also been discarded. The new reader is also denied the enjoyment provided by Tudor's clever embellishments of the book's title, including an inchworm wending its way along the top of a letter.
There is an unfortunate lack of faithfulness to both the clarity of line and intensity of color that were so notable in the book's early printings; this happens all too often in the modern world of children's-book publishing. Hopefully, the printer and the publisher will work together to rectify these failings for subsequent printings.
Even with these faults, this book is a visual feast for both those who already do, and those who will now learn to, appreciate the value and importance of America's past rural life. Moreover, it is an enduring testimony of Tasha Tudor's distinguished contributions to the world of children's literature .