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Thursday, January 12, 2012

There's No Books Like Snow Books

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Except for three brief months when I was five, I've lived my entire life in the midwest.  For me, winter means snow.  So far this winter, our weather has been unusually warm.  We've had very little of the white stuff here, much to our whole family's disappointment.  I've still been reading some of our favorite wintery books to Ben, though, and thought I'd share some of them with you.  (And, as luck would have it, we're actually getting some snow here today!)

The Biggest, Best Snowman, written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, 1998...  Big Mama, Big Sarah, and Big Lizzie tell Little Nell she's too small to be of any help, so she goes out into the woods to play.  While there, she decides to build a snowman with the help of her friends, Reindeer, Hare, and Bear Cub -- the biggest, best snowman ever.  When her family sees it, they finally realize that she's not so small and helpless after all.  With its silly pictures and fun prose, this is an amusing book.

The Mitten, written and illustrated by Jan Brett, 1989... Nicki asks Baba to make him a pair of white mittens.  She does so, and almost immediately afterwards, he loses one in the snow.  Soon, a little mole finds it and climbs in, to keep warm.  Then a rabbit comes along... and then a hedgehog.... 

Children (and adults!) will enjoy the absurdity of the story as each new animal comes along and squeezes into the mitten.  Brett keeps with her usual illustrative style, featuring one main picture on each page with two smaller pictures on each side that show us what the words don't tell us -- one side shows Nicki playing in the snow (unaware that he's lost his mitten) and the other shows the latest animal to spy the mitten.

Sadie and the Snowman, written by Allen Morgan and illustrated by Brenda Clark, 1987...  Sadie makes a really good snowman, using cookies for the eyes, an apple for the nose, and a great big banana for the smile.  He lasts for a long time, but then some birds eat the cookies, a squirrel eats the apple, and a large raccoon steals the banana... and the snowman begins to melt.  Sadie is sad, but then it snows again and she reuses what was left of her snowman (along with some new snow) to make another.  She keeps rebuilding the snowman like this all winter long.  When the days start getting warmer, Sadie comes up with an idea to keep her snowman throughout the year so that she can build him again next winter. 

As someone who is always saddened when my snowmen melt, I love this cute story and Sadie's ingenuity!

Stranger in the Woods, written and photographed by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, 2000... Filled with beautiful wintery photographs, this story is told from the perspective of woodland creatures.  A stranger is in the forest, but he is a friendly stranger -- quiet, still, and full of good things to eat!  At the end of the book is a "recipe" for making a snowman that humans and animals can appreciate.

The Snowy Day, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, 1962... Back in June, when I first started this blog, I listed this book as one of my all-time favorite picture books.   I remember our elementary school librarian reading it to our class when I was little, and I've been a fan ever since!   I love to read it any time of year, but especially in the winter.  Like Peter, the little boy in the book, I love to go out into the deep, deep snow.  The joy and excitement of a snowy day are reflected on every page, in Keats' pictures and his words. 

Copy Me, Copycub, written by Richard Edwards and illustrated by Susan Winter, 2001...  Copycub imitates everything his mother bear does.  Then it begins to snow, and Copycub wants to lie down right where he is and go to sleep.  His mother encourages him to copy her once more, leading him to a cave where he'll be safe and dry all through the long winter.  This is a sweet, gentle story for little ones.

The Missing Mitten Mystery, written and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, 2002...  My son Nick's first grade teacher gave a copy of this book to him and each of her other students for Christmas many years ago.  He read it back then, but I never read it myself until my son Ben discovered it on the shelf last year and wanted to hear the story. 

Annie has lost another mitten, her fifth one of the season, and she knows she'll be in trouble if she can't find it.  While she and her dog Oscar look for it, readers are treated to Annie's creative imagination, through Kellogg's words and illustrations.  Ben and I laughed out loud as she imagines her mitten being used as a sleeping bag for a mouse or being buried in a garden where a mitten tree will grow.  At last, Annie finds her mitten in another unlikely (but more probable) place.

Snowmen at Night, written by Caralyn Beuhner and illustrated by Mark Beuhner, 2002... What do snowmen do at night, when everyone else is asleep?  Beuhner offers an inventive explanation for what may be happening, and why snowmen might not look the same in the morning as they did the day before.  In addition to showing the story, each illustration also contains hidden pictures -- my kids love searching for them!

The Snowman, illustrated by Raymond Briggs, 1978...  We only own this tiny board book version (which does have some words), but we've checked out the original version from the library many times.  It is a true PICTURE book, telling the story through illustrations only -- no words.  A little boy builds a snowman which comes to life one night, taking the boy on a magical journey.

When Will It Snow? (also published as Totally Polar), written by Marty Crisp and illustrated by Viv Eisner, 2001...  Peter Petrosky MacGregor O'Toole loves snow more than anything, and can't wait to go play in it.  Too bad it's summertime!

I especially love Eisner's charming illustrations.  With our lack of snow, this has been a perfect book to read this winter as we dream of sledding, building snowmen, and making snow angels.

What are your favorite wintertime books?  I'd love to hear about them!

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