Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Roundup #6: Winter 2014

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice 
by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch
Penguin, 2013, 40 pages

December 21, is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  That means that the days start getting longer, but they also start getting colder in the Northern Hemisphere.  Here is a book that explains the Winter Solstice to kids, as well as providing a very interesting and informative history of how and why this is such an important date from ancient times to the present.  There is also some nice cultural history, and how traditions that we still keep first developed.  The science behind the Winter Solstice is also explained in clear, simple terms, with lovely colorful illustrations throughout. Ages 6+

And, of course, with winter comes snow…

The Snowy Day by Erza Jack Keats
Penguin, 1962, 40 pages

After a big snowfall, Peter puts on his snowsuit and goes out to play in the snow.  First published in 1962, The Snowy Day has been a favorite classic story ever since.  It makes a wonderful read aloud and a great story to share on snowed-in days, as well as bedtime.  It is unique for being one of the first children's books to feature a child of color for the main character.  The illustrations, done by Keats, are also unique.  According to Wikipedia, they are "collage with cutouts of patterned paper fabric and oilcloth; handmade stamps and spatterings of India ink made with a toothbrush."  It is rumored that the park where Peter plays is Prospect Park, Brooklyn, which is fine with me, since that is the park where I spent my snowy days as a child.  Ages 3+

The Snowy Day is such a beloved story, that it was issued in a board book for kids younger that 3.  

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Random House, 1978, 32 pages

In this classic wordless story, a young boy builds a snowman who comes to life and with whom the boy has lots of adventures.  But are the adventures just a product of the boy's active imagination?  Wordless books give parents and young readers the opportunity to make up the story as they look at each illustration, in a way, mirroring the boys adventure.  This is one of those books that, along with The Snowy Day, I always give as a Christmas gifts to new born family and friends for their beginning picture book libraries.   Ages 5+

The Snowman is also available as a board book for readers age 2+

And if you go to The Snowman's website, you can find all kinds of activities including simple instructions and templates for making Snowman garland, 3-D snowflakes and more.
And as long as we're on about snowmen,

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, pictures by Mark Buehner
Dial Books, 2002, 32 pages

Have you ever wondered what snowmen do after the kids who built them go home and go to bed?  Well, here's your answer.  Those rascally snowman and snowwomen pretty much do the same things kids do.  They drink ice-cold cocoa, play baseball with snowballs, slide around on the ice, roll around in to the snow.  All their fun is told in simple rhyme, with beautifully depicted in oil paint over acrylic illustrations.  This is a fun book and there are even hidden shapes in the illustrations on each page.  See how many you can find.  Ages 4+

Outside by Deirdre Gill
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 40 pages

It's snowing outside and a little boy has nothing to do inside, but his brother won't go out and play with him in the snow.  So, the boy puts on his winter clothing, goes out and begins making snow angels.  When his brother still won't go out, the boy begins to roll some some into a ball and build and build all kinds of snowy things and when he's done building he lets his imagination run wild.  What adventures he has!  What a wonderful magical day in the snow!  Beautifully illustrations in wintry whites and blues, with touches of red.  Ages 4+

Blizzard by John Rocco
Disney Hyperion, 2014, 40 Pages

Based on the Blizzard of 1978, Rocco takes the readers day-by-day, from the first falling snowflakes to the end of a long snowy week.  With drifts so high the front door couldn't be opened, at first it was fun for a young boy to be snowed in with his family.  But after a few days, they are beginning to run out of supplies.  But then, the young boy comes up with a remarkably clever idea for getting to the store.  Follow his route and see what a hero this boy truly is.  Rocco's illustrations are wonderful in all their blizzardy glory.  Ages 4+

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 32 pages

In 12 poems, the reader is introduced to winter as it impacts various animals living in the natural world. Each lyrical poem is dedicated to a different animal and coupled with a short but informative facts about that animal.  This is a perfect book for kids who may be budding poets or budding scientists and for everyone who loves animals and nature.  The illustrations are hand painted linoleum prints and are just spectacular.  What a great Christmas present this picture book for older readers would make.  Ages 6+

Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian
Harper Collins, 1999, 48 pages

Here is a book of poetry dedicated to winter, and one that invites the reader to perhaps look and about winter.  And there is something for everyone in Florian's poems, whether you like winter or not (like me).  Some poems are written in the shape of what they are about - words ice skate a figure eight, or climb a sledding hill, then sail down it.  The watercolor and color pencil illustrations are as beautifully quiet as the poems themselves.  Age 4+

I thought this one was perfect for the Winter Solstice:

1 comment:

  1. Lovely selection, some old favourites and some I’ve not seen before. I love the poem “The winter sun’s a grumpy guy” just about sums up today! Happy Holidays, Barbara


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