This reflective, observant book follows a family of four through a calendar year of small moments with a playful, spirited young girl serving as our guide.
Author Cheryl B. Klein keeps the text simple, using short, unpunctuated phrases—“First valentine / First cold / First crush”— while illustrator Qin Leng’s charming images capture the emotional ups and downs of childhood. Much of the book is composed of little vignettes that expertly pace the action. The “first crush” begins at the “first cold,” when our protagonist sneezes and a classmate kindly hands her a box of tissues. With crisp colors and fine lines, Leng delightfully extends Klein’s spare text.
Klein occasionally varies the rhythm of her phrasing for wry comedic effect. There’s a first new umbrella, then a first lost umbrella, followed later by a second occurrence of each. There’s a second crush, repeated fights with the girl’s brother (“Two hundred twenty-sixth fight with your brother”) and, as winter returns, second and even third snowfalls. As the year winds down, Klein seamlessly and subtly slides into marking “last” instances, rather than “first.” For example, waffles that were “first” in January are now the “last waffles” of snowy December.
The book is especially joyful when depicting the year’s seasonal gifts—the first “green in the gray” of spring, the first beach trip of summer, the first “gold in the green” of fall and, as the year comes full circle, the first silent night of winter. A Year of Everyday Wonders is a truly wonderful, wonder-filled picture book, perfect for revisiting in every season of the year.