November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Walking in a Winter Wonderland | Great Books for Snowy Days

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Celebrate the season and warm children’s hearts with titles that feature exciting cold-weather adventures, science-based explorations, and bold, boredom-vanquishing activities.

Winter1Brownie Groundhog and the Wintery Surprise. By Susan Blackaby. Illus. by Carmen Segovia. Sterling. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4027-9836-8. K–Gr 2.

After an enjoyable picnic, Brownie heads home for her December-through-February snooze. Feeling forlorn, her best friend Fox makes up an excuse to visit and drags Bunny along. The sleepy groundhog responds to her guests with comically incomprehensible mutterings, as they borrow everything from light strings to a trumpet. Jolted fully awake by loud noises, Brownie steps outside to grumble, but instead discovers that her pals have concocted a spectacular winter fete. An endearing tale of friendship told with lovely acrylic paintings and old-fashioned charm.

Winter2Cold Snap. By Eileen Spinelli. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. Knopf. 2012. PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95700-0; Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85700-3. Gr 3.

It’s “snowy cold” in Toby Mills and, though the townsfolk try their best to stay cheery and warm, a week’s worth of frigid weather has their spirits plunging along with the thermometer. That is until the mayor’s wife comes up with a plan for a special winter treat. Delightful details abound in both text and pictures (including the ever-lengthening icicle that dangles from the nose of the town founder’s statue), and Priceman’s gouache paintings shimmer with shivery hues and bright splashes of color. Quaint, cozy, and just right for sharing.

Winter3

The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! By Rebecca Rule. Illus. by Jennifer Thames. Islandport Pr. 2012. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-934031-88-9. K–Gr 3.

When sleet-covered snow makes for super-slick sliding conditions, Lizzie and her friends beg use of Grandpa Bud’s extra-long homemade sled and head for “the highest, mightiest, iciest sledding hill” around. It isn’t easy getting to the top (downhill slips repeatedly land the seven giggling children in a “Pig Pile”), but when they do, they are in for the ride of their lives. Vivacious storytelling, imagery-packed language, and exuberant cartoon artwork capture the trepidation and exhilaration of a high-flying escapade.

Winter4

The Kids’ Winter Fun Book: Homespun Adventures for Family Fun. By Claire Gillman and Sam Martin. Barron’s. 2011. $12.99. ISBN 9780764147265. Gr 2–6.

This kid-friendly book showcases an array of craft projects, ideas for outdoor play and exploration, indoor games and simple science experiments, and taste-bud tingling recipes. Whether making a paper mâché snowmen or piecing together a snow fortress, performing coin tricks or cooking up candy apples, readers will find the directions easy-to-follow and the results pleasing. Big fun for family time, whatever the weather.

Winter5Lemonade in Winter: A Book about Two Kids Counting Money. By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Random House/Schwartz & Wade. 2012. PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95883-0; Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85883-3; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98773-1. K–Gr 3.

It’s never too cold for true entrepreneurs (or mathematicians). Despite teeth-chattering temperatures and falling snow, Pauline and her younger brother collect loose quarters, purchase supplies at the corner store, and open a lemonade stand in front of their apartment building. Though it takes some creative marketing, both pitchers are finally empty and the children tally their earnings and reward themselves with a frozen treat. The engaging narrative and soft-hued illustrations describe a satisfying sibling-shared endeavor, while also introducing business basics and providing plenty of coin-counting practice.

Winter6Little Dog Lost: The Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic. By Mônica Carnesi. Illus. by author. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2012. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-0-399-25666-0. PreS–Gr 3.

During a bitter cold winter in Poland, residents of Grudziadz spotted a dog floating on an ice floe in the Vistula River, but their efforts to reach him failed and the poor pooch headed toward the Baltic Sea. Two days later, the exhausted pup was finally sighted and rescued by the crew of the research vessel Baltica, caring individuals who offered him a new home and new name. Carnesi tells this thrilling true-life tale with stirring staccato sentences and watercolors drenched in icy shades and heart-warming emotion.

Winter7Me Too! By Valeri Gorbachev. Illus. by author. Holiday House. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2744-4. PreS–Gr 1.

Bear and Chipmunk spend a perfect day together, digging in the snow, making a snowman, ice skating (and falling down), and skiing (and falling down), before returning home to share cookies and hot cocoa in front of a roaring fireplace. The text’s simple vocabulary, brief sentences, and clever repetition are just right for barely-beginning readers, but the story’s charismatic characters and jubilant watercolor paintings will also captivate the read-aloud crowd.

Winter8Over and Under the Snow. By Kate Messner. Illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8118-6784-9. PreS–Gr 2.

As a girl and her father go cross-country skiing through woods “frosted fresh and white,” lyrical text describes a hidden-beneath-the-snow world where red squirrels, bullfrogs, chipmunks, and other animals find safety and warmth. Information is smoothly integrated into the narrative along with a hush-filled mood of wonder, and handsome mixed-media illustrations depict activities both above and below the surface. An author’s note provides an introduction to the subnivean zone and its inhabitants.

Winter9

Red Sled. By Lita Judge. Illus. by author. Atheneum. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2007-6; ebook $11.76. ISBN 978-1-4424-3552-0. PreS–Gr 2.

Spying a red sled outside a cabin on a moonlit night, a venturesome bear decides to borrow it and is soon gleefully hurtling down a hillside joined by several other woodland animals—all stacked and restacked in various gravity-defying configurations. After noticing footprints the next day, the sled’s young owner is ready and waiting for the evening’s fast-soaring fun. This nearly wordless romp is punctuated with entertaining sound effects and illustrated with action-packed paintings.

Winter10The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder. By Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson. Photos by Mark Cassino. Illus. by Nora Aoyagi. Chronicle. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780811868662. PreS–Gr 4.

This beguiling look at a commonplace phenomenon blends solid scientific information with a delightful sense of awe. Magnificent magnified photographs, helpful diagrams, and accessible text describe how a tiny cloud-hugged speck (e.g., a particle of dirt, ash, or salt) is transformed into an exquisite, intricate, and always unique snow crystal. The eye-dazzling visuals and simple statements presented in a large-size font make this book appropriate for sharing aloud with younger listeners, while the detailed explanations provided in smaller print will inform and amaze older readers. Directions for crystal catching and observing are appended.

Winter11Twelve Kinds of Ice. By Ellen Bryan Obed. Illus. by Barbara McClintock. HMH. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-618-8912-90; ebook $16.99. ISBN 9780547529325. Gr 3–6.

From the first fragile film formed atop a barnyard pail in autumn to the hose-and-shovel construction of a backyard rink in winter’s deepest freeze, a girl and her family eagerly await and revel in a season of ice skating. Based upon her childhood in Maine, Obed’s charming vignettes depict each moment with descriptive detail, lyrical language, and gentle humor. McClintock’s pen-and-ink drawings sparkle with warmth and nostalgia. An alluring choice for family read-alouds, this book will foster the sharing of long-ago childhood memories and the making of new ones.

Winter12

Winter Is for Snow. By Robert Neubecker. Illus. by author. Hyperion. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-142317831-6. PreS–Gr 2.

As snowflakes fall, a blizzard-loving boy tries to win his cold-loathing younger sister over to the season’s many merits. A breezy back-and-forth narrative expresses each youngster’s point of view (he effuses, “Winter is for fabulous!/Winter is for snow,” while she responds, “Winter is for lots of clothes!/And I don’t want to go”) until big brother’s enthusiasm finally warms little sister’s heart to winter. Ebullient rhymes and artwork packed with outdoor frolics make for a winning read-aloud.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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