Winter Picture Books

Lynn: We are having a stretch of unusually warm sunny days. Our gray Michigan winter will be here soon though. To help get ready we have two charming books that celebrate wintry fun.

39114683One of our new favorites is Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser (Kane Miller, 2009). Deer tells Squirrel that snow is coming soon. Squirrel doesn’t remember snow. “Snow,” answered Deer, “White and wet and cold and soft.” Squirrel resolves to stay awake to see this amazing stuff. Eventually he is joined by curious Hedgehog. They enthusiastically sing sea shanties to stay awake and the noise rouses Bear who decides to stay up too. Alarmed at the thought that the first snowflake has already fallen, the three animals decide to go look for snow and turn up hilarious examples that don’t quite fit the definition. Meschenmoser’s pencil sketches in muted winter tones have an endearing comic charm. Squirrel’s rumpled fur looks like my grandsons’ hair, full of exuberant cowlicks. Leaves and seeds stick to Hedgehog’s spines and there is a striking resemblance between Bear and the way I look in the morning bearbefore coffee – the essence of grumpy sleepiness. Fortunately the real thing makes a beautiful appearance and our three tousled friends decide that snow was worth waiting for.

This is one of those wonderful books that offers fun at multiple levels. Children will giggle at the silly mistakes the animals make as they look for snow and adults will love the energetic detail and humor in the drawings. The accompanying text in a bold black font is perfect for reading aloud. This would work well for a winter story time but is perfect for sharing and snuggling under a cozy blanket. Bring on the hot chocolate!

snow-dayCindy: I’m cleaning out the library AV room today and look like bear too! And, like bear, I’ve HAD it. Piles of cables and cords and broken projectors and dust. It’s enough to make me wish we had piles of snow…I’m waiting for winter because that gives rise to hope…in the form of SNOW DAYS! There’s nothing like seeing that notice go up on the local news website to warm your soul. In The Snow Day by Komako Sakai (Scholastic/Levine, 2009) there’s no joyous screeching like in my house. Rabbit wakes up and is told he can sleep late, “Kindergarten’s closed.” Rabbit and mother stay inside all day and forfeit other outings to play cards and be “all alone in the world.” When the snow stops they venture out to make snow dumplings and leave footprints in the snow and rabbit goes to bed happy that father’s plane will be able to bring him home now that the snow has ceased. The muted paintings capture the quiet and solitude of a really snowy day. Sakai’s work is one of ten books honored in the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2009 list announced this week. My only complaint? That mother rabbit won’t let her son play outside while it is snowing for fear he will catch cold! He missed a great day of play, but she made up for it by taking him out in the magical night of fresh fallen snow. I can’t wait to make my own snow dumplings…

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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