Tuesday, December 10, 2019

☃️Let It Snow! A Winter Wonderland of Picture Books☃️

My young readers love snowy stories and these are some of our new favorite picture books that we would like to share with you. We don't get as much snow in NYC as other places, so snowy stories are always fun, without the slippery slush that follows a beautiful snowfall. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Red Sled written and illustrated by Lita Judge
Little Simon, 2019, 38 pages
 After a day of sledding, a young child returns home, leaving her sled outside the door. That night, along comes a bear, sees the sled and creeps away with it. It doesn't take long for bear to be joined by various woodland creatures as he sleds downhill. Rabbit, moose, two raccoons, possum, hedgehog, and mouse all join in the fun until...oops, a crash landing at the bottom of a steep hill before returning the sled. Next morning, the child notices the bear's footprints, and following them, joins the woodland creatures for some more sledding fun. My kids love this book and I was happy to have this new board book because it could be left for the kids to "read" on their own without having to worry about ripped pages. As was the original hardcover picture book, it's a charming wordless, but not soundless book. There's onomatopoeic sounds on each page and I would hear my young readers imitating the sounds as they went through the story, laughing all the way (and I suspect wishing they could join in the fun).

Snow Still written and illustrated by Holly Surplice
Nosy Crow, 2019, 22 pages
Another new favorite board book, a little fawn steps out into a world covered in snow one morning. As he sets out to explore this new white world, he discovers just how slippery can be. But there's also so much to see and observe around him. There are the two rabbits to chase and seek after they hide from him, there are seven little birds sitting on a tree branch, the silence of a owl flying over head, and the chilliness of new falling snow on a winter day. As the snow deepens, it's time to return home and to the warmth and safety of mom and sleep. This is a sweet story, told in rhyming couplets, with only two descriptive word on each page, each beginning with the word snow. My kids liked having this read to them during resting time and later exploring the fawn's winter wonderland with each other. The seasonal watercolor and ink illustrations are done in winter whites and blues and are just delightful.  

All Around Bustletown: Winter 
by Rotraut Susanne Berner
Prestel Junior, 2019, 14 pages
Bustletown is one busy place, even on a snowy day, in this oversized board book. Follow Lisa from home as she makes her way to the skating pond, finding a lost wallet and key on her way and returning them to Billy, who's on his way to jpg in the park. Anne is supposed to meet friends at a cafe, but overslept and must hurry, hurry through Bustletown. Oliver and his dad take the bus to the cultural center, then his dad heads to the store to buy a special present for Oliver. Bonnie the cat is tooling around town looking for some tasty tid-bits to eat. These are just some of the stories kids can follow. Each two page spread is filled to the brim with people, activity, cutaways of buildings to show what's happening inside. There's an apartment building, a train station, a department store, the cultural center, and of course, the very busy town square. And it's not just people who are pursuing their day, there are also some pretty busy dogs, cats, and birds. The pages are bright and colorful, the people distinct and easy to follow, and the pages are not so busy that young readers will feel overwhelmed. Mine had lots of fun talking about what everyone in Bustletown is doing, and comparing it to their similar experiences. This is a fun seek and find book that will keep kids as busy as the residents of Bustletown.

A Day for Skating by Sarah Sullivan,
illustrated by Madeline Valentine
Candlewick Press, 2019, 32 pages
Told in a brief, playful rhyme, this book has quickly become a favorite with my young readers, none of whom, ironically, have ever skated, but want to try it someday. In this story, a young girl and family head out to the frozen pond for a day of skating and family time. The young girl in a novice skater and when she falls, her dad gently reassures her that it's is part of the learning process. There are lots of other skaters on the ice, with varying degrees of skill, and everyone is having a good time. The family takes a break in the snack bar hut to eat and warm up, then it's back out on the ice - no falls this time. As the day comes to a close, the tired family heads home to a warm bath and a bedtime story. The watercolor and color pencil digital illustrations capture the cold day perfectly, especially the passing of time in the changing color of the sky, and the movement of the skaters. The skaters are a very diverse group, including kids of color, a girl in a hijab, and father wearing a yarmulka, and even a girl playing ice hockey. The ending is a pleasing picture of the forest animals taking their turn on the ice, so of whom you may notice watching the kids during the day as they had fun. I used to love ice skating and personally found this to be a really delightful family story.

Snowy Race by April Jones Prince, 
illustrated by Christine Davenier
Margaret Ferguson Books, 2019, 40 pages
It's a very special day, a day when a little girl gets to ride along with her dad on his snow plow. Told in simple rhyming couplets, readers follow a young girl as she wakes up one snowy morning, gets dressed, eats breakfast, and, all bundled up, she's off with dad to get the snow plow out of the garage. Plowing through fields and town until arriving at the train station. My young readers loved the fact that none of their predictions about why father and daughter ended up at the train station. Were they going to race the train? Trains are too fast for snow plows. I loved the look of surprise when we turned the page and saw the girl running towards an arriving passenger. Her mom? Her favorite auntie? Her beloved grandma? Then, it's a race home to a cozy warm house with mom AND dad. This was an exciting picture book to share with my kids because there was so much to speculate about based on other snow plow books we've read, but it turned out to be such a different story. The couplets are short but very expressive, capturing the little girl's excitement at riding in the plow with her dad, racing to the train station in time in such a heavy snowstorm, and greeting her mom. The illustrations are done in a pastel palette with ink and manage to evoke both the cold of the snow storm and the warmth of the family at the same time. We've read this book in F&G form and it's been loved a lot. Needless to say, I can't wait to get the hardcover available November 26, 2019 for our little library of favorite picture books.

Some Snow Is... by Ellen Yeomans,
illustrated by Andrea Offermann
G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR, 2019, 32 pages
How many snows are there? According to this book, there are many different kinds of snow and each kind is chronicled in this lovely expressive picture book that takes readers through the snow possibilities of three seasons and kids reactions to them: From first snow ("Some snow is First Snow. /We've waited for so long snow. /It it really snow snow?/or only heavy rain?") to Sleet Snow, Fluff Snow, Angel Snow (snow angels everywhere), Snowball Snow, Driveway Snow (the worst, lots of shoveling), Tracking Snow (which critters belong to those footprints), Yellow Snow (stay away from that snow), Sledding Snow, Snow Day Snow, Snowman Snow, and Spring Snow (mostly mud and rain), until finally, there's no more snow ("Soon, soon, all gone snow./We've waited for so long snow./Please, please, no more snow.../our bikes are whispering") and spring is on the way. I love books that pull my kids into lively conversations and this one really did that. Each four line stanza ends with the word snow, except the last line, so there is really a wonderful melodic quality to each kind of snow. The season watercolor, pen and ink illustrations are detailed and really added to the snow conversations we had as my young readers explored each page thoroughly. The truth of this book is that we are always excited for the first snow and tired of the last one.   

One Snowy Morning by Kevin Tseng,
illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Dial Books, 2019, 32 pages
When I first read this delightful book, I laughed out loud, but I wondered how my young readers would react. Well, they loved it, too. One snowy morning, friends squirrel and chipmunk spot what they see as a giant pile of snow but reader know is a snowman. Mistaking the different parts that make a snowman a snowman, the friends make what readers know are incorrect assumptions about each one. The eyes are lumpy kickballs, the stick arms are wooden legs, the hat is a rowboat, the not a rare dragon's tooth, and my favorite, the mitten are fish puppets. As more and more woodland animals gather round, they strip the everything off the snowman, taking it back to their lair where they prepare a lovely dragon tooth soup for their friends. But what if someone else had been planning a dragon-tooth-soup party? The friends take what components they still have and return it to the snowman - sort of. Did my young readers like this book? They loved it, and they thought making the wrong assumptions about each snowman component was hilariously funny because "everybody knows how to make a snowman!" The spare text is very tongue-in-cheek and harmonizes perfectly with the wintery digitally colored pencil illustrations. We've read this a number of times now and it never gets old. What fun!

Bear is Awake! An Alphabet Story
written and illustrated by Hannah E. Harrison
Dial Books, 2019, 32 pages
One winter morning, a hibernating bear wakes up, and makes his way to a cabin, ringing the doorbell to be let in. The little girl who lives in the cabin doesn't know what to do with the bear, so she ties a silly yellow hat on him and they head off to the library. Along the way, people reactions to the bear are hilarious, and where do they first go? To the library, of course, where bear joins story time while the girl reads a book about bears. Then, it's off to a grocery store, and home again. Eventually, bear ends up back in his cave to finish his winter sleep. This book is just laugh out loud funny. Words and illustrations match perfectly, the body language and facial expressions on bear and people are both playfully and skeptically expressive. It's a book that cleverly tells a story using words (and not too many of them) for each letter of the alphabet. Each alphabet letter coordinates with a wintery gouache illustration that offer clues as to what is happening but also allows the reader to more fully narrate the events. As we went through the alphabet and pictures, each child took a turn telling the story based on the letter/picture cues (and which we have done repeatedly). My young readers loved it, and I loved it, what a great interactive book this turned out to be. We has so much fun with this book.

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