Monday, December 25, 2017

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! A Snowy Picture Book Roundup

And what could be more fun then a snowy Christmas, especially one that you don't have to shovel!

Wolf in the Snow written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
2017, Feiwel & Friends, 48 pages, age 3+
In this nearly wordless picture book, a young girl in a red hooded coat gets lost in as snowstorm after leaving school just as a young wolf cub gets separated from its pack in the woods. When the girl and the cub come face to face with each other in the woods, the cub is cold and exhausted. She coaxes the cub to come to her, and following the howling of the pack, eventually finds and returns the cub to its mother. But now the girl is cold, exhausted, and even more lost. Can the wolves help her find her way back home?  How many times did my young readers pull this book out to read and talk about it? More times than I can count. They loved this positive spin on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It is a story that is packed with emotion and feeling that can be read in the illustrations and I’ve never seen my kids take to a wordless picture book the way they did this one. And though it may be wordless, but it makes full use of sound words throughout. A story of kindness and caring that will definitely melt the coldest heart.

Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Jones
2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 40 pages, age 4+
Winter’s coming, snowflakes are starting to fall, and all the forest creatures are getting ready for the cold. Only a fine red fox asks himself “what should I do?” One by one, the forest creatures make suggestions to the red fox, but none will work for him because he isn’t a caterpillar that can wrap itself up in a shiny chrysalis, or a squirrel who can gather and store enough acorns, or a bat that can sleep winter away hanging upside down in a cave, nor can a fox fly south with a flock of geese. A fluffy white rabbit, and big brown bear try to help, but their suggestions won’t work for a fine red fox either. What will work for a fox in winter? It takes another fine red fox to tell him that what he must do in winter is…dance. Because in winter, foxes dance with each other. This lyrical look at the habits of forest creatures getting ready for winter is tenderly illustrated by Richard Jones in a palette of soft forest colors against a snowy background and a wintery sky that accents the red fur of the fox. Not only is this a charming story, it is a nice introduction to animals in nature.  

Snow by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
2008, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR, 40 pages, age 4+
There’s all kinds of snow, this book reminds us. Snow that quietly comes at night, with big fat snowflakes that carry the possibility of school closing, or snow that starts while kids are in school and know they will be sent home. This lyrical poem follows a young girl as she experiences all kinds of snow with her new friend and her grandmother. Playing in the park, catching snowflakes on their tongues, rolling down snowy hills together, making snow angels until the two friends are taken to the warmth of their homes. At home, the young girl shares a warm drink and a game with her grandmother as they watch the falling snow outside. This is such a lovely, peaceful, intergenerational poem with illustrations that capture the magic of a big snowfall, so much so that you can almost feel the snowflakes falling on your own cheeks. Rylant has made snow look so inviting that now my young readers are hoping with all their might that we have a big snowfall, too, preferably sooner rather than later.

A Warm Winter written and illustrated by Feridun Oral
2016, minedition, 32 pages, age 4+
Mouse wakes up one morning and there’s a chill in the air. He decides it’s time to gather up some firewood in the forest so his family will be nice and warm all winter long. Mouse collects so much firewood, he’s exhausted and can’t get it all home by himself, so he calls on his friend Rabbit to see if she will help. When it is still too much for Mouse and Rabbit, they ask wise Fox if they can borrow his sled and if he would help. But Mouse’s pile of firewood is still to big and heavy and doesn’t budge, even with the sled. So the three friends decide to call on their friend Big Bear, who actually helps to move the pile of firewood, but when the snow intensifies into a blizzard and they hit a tree stump, everything goes flying. Can the four friends find a way to get the firewood home so that they can all have a warm winter? This is such a beautifully illustrated story about friendship, teamwork, and sharing, it was easy for my young readers to get the message. Oral has really captured the cold of a winter storm and warmth of having good friends.

White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
1947, 1988 Turtleback Books, 30 pages, age 5+
White Snow, Bright Snow begins and ends with a rhyme about silently falling snow coming down in the night. Then, it moves on to a lyrical prose text about children, a policeman, a farmer, and even a rabbit anticipating snow, and what they do when the first flakes begin to fall. As the snow continues to fall and pile up, the policeman gets sick, the farmer shovels a path from his house to his barn, the rabbit takes cover in his barrow, but the children laugh, dance and play in the snow. Eventually, the feel of spring is in the air, and the children, the policeman, the farmer, and the rabbit all begin to look forward to the warmer weather. This is an old-fashioned story, and not terribly exciting. I had my doubts that my young readers would like it very much, especially since we had just read Cynthia Rylant’s Snow the day before and it has a similar feel. And yet, they did like it, and liked comparing it to the Rylant story. This book was a Caldecott Medal winner in 1947, but I thought the illustrations held up very well. This book isn’t for everyone, but if you have a young reader who likes a quiet, gentle story this is for them.

The Snowbear by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander
2017, Words & Pictures, 32 pages, age 4+
Iggy and Martina are surprised to wake up and find that it had snowed overnight. Going out to play, their mom tells them to be careful of the hill - it’s steep and slippery in the snow. The kids decide to build a snowman, but he looks more like a snowbear after they put a hat on him. Next, they decide to slide down the hill on their sled, but it is so steep and slippery that they can’t stop  and find themselves deep in the woods, facing a very unfriendly wolf. Suddenly, the wolf runs away and Iggy and Martina are scooped up by their snowbear and taken up the hill to home.  The next day the snow has melted and the snowbear is gone. Did he melt or did he return to the woods to live? Young readers can decide for themselves. This is a charming, magical winter tale that is sure to please kids. It is just scary enough for young readers, and will keep them speculating about the snowbear’s fate with each reading. Alexander’s childlike illustrations add to the magical storyline, and there’s lots of white space mimicking cold snow. There’s lots of shadowing in the woods to add to the tension, but snowbear’s friendly face coming to the rescue quickly dispels it. A nice family read aloud that will no doubt be read and reread.

The Little Reindeer written and illustrated by Nicola Killen
2017, Paula Wiseman Book, 32 pages, age 4+
It’s Christmas Eve and Ollie has just gone to sleep when she hears the jingle of jingle bells. Looking out her window, all she sees freshly fallen snow. Going downstairs, she grabs her sled, and follows the jingling sound. In the wood, she find are collar with jingle bells all around it. When a reindeer approaches her, Ollie realizes the collar belongs to him and puts it back on him. Then, she climbs on his back, he flies her home and after saying good-bye, Ollie climbs back in bed and falls asleep, not even hearing the jingling bells of Santa and his reindeer. This is another magical winter tale, but did Ollie really help one of Santa’s reindeer, or was it perhaps a dream - once again, young readers can decide for themselves. Killen’s illustrations, done in a wintery night palette of whites, grays, and black, with touches of red and silver and gold textured jingle bells and snow, add to the magic of the story. This is sure to be a Christmas classic, and the perfect read aloud as the kids count the days until Santa visits.  

A Loud Winter’s Nap by written and illustrated by Katy Hudson
2017, Capstone Young Readers, 32 pages, age 3+
It’s time for Tortoise to begin his long winter’s nap. But just as he settles in to hibernate until spring, Tortoise is woken up by a Robin’s singing class. Invited to join the class,  Tortoise explains that he doesn’t like winter and packs up his stuff, and finds a new place to sleep. When he hears tap, tap, tap, he discovers Rabbit making ice sculptures. Invited to join, Tortoise explains he doesn’t like winter, and packs up his stuff to find a new place to sleep. But again, his sleep is disturbed - this time by Squirrel’s snowball fight. Finding a new place to sleep high up in a tree, Tortoise is awaked when he lands on the ground. It seems he’s crashed Beaver’s construction site. Moving again, he finds himself on the ice skating pond where he give up sleeping and joins Robin, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Beaver in some fun on the ice, but when everyone else gets tired and sleeps, now Tortoise is wide awake. Will he ever get his winter’s nap? This was a fun book with lots of great wintery illustrations.

How to Build a Snow Bear by Eric Pinder, pictures by Stephanie Graegin
2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 40 pages, age 3+
When Thomas discovers that he can’t build a snowman by himself, he decides to try to wake up the ‘hibernating bear’ in the upstair bedroom. But bears don’t like winter and neither does this little one. After trying all kinds of ways to wake up the ‘hibernating bear’ Thomas finally gets him downstairs with a favorite snack. Together, they finish the snowman, go sledding, build a snow cave, and at the end of the day, they share a favorite story. I found this to be a wonderful story about siblings learning to play together and enjoy each other’s company. My kids did wonder why the younger brother was sleeping when Thomas left for school and still sleeping the he got home from school. I explained he was probably taking an afternoon nap, but that wasn’t in the story. I have to admit I didn’t like the fact that Thomas has such a hard time waking up his brother, it felt like something was wrong and one of the kids asked if he was sick. My readers had no problem with him dressed up a in bear suit, telling me it was pretend, and probably warm. Overall, they liked this story especially since most of them are older and/or younger siblings. 

1 comment:

  1. Now I really want to add Wolf in the Snow to my collection of Christmas books and wordless books! This year I got Toys Meet Snow, by Emily Jenkins, which was a wonderful book about friendship and the different ways people (or toys!) can experience the same thing.


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