November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Frosty Days and Warm Hearts | Great Books to Celebrate Winter

Update winter storytimes and displays with this selection of recently published seasonal picture books.

BlizzardBlizzard. by John Rocco. illus. by author. Disney-Hyperion. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423178651.

K-Gr 2–Rocco’s autobiographical tale recollects a 1978 blizzard that dumped 40 inches of snow across New England and left streets impassible for days. When supplies begin to run drastically low (no milk for hot chocolate), the intrepid 10-year-old narrator consults his arctic survival guide, affixes tennis rackets to feet, and makes a perilous (and comically circuitous) trek to the store. Sparkling paintings and dynamic text capture the chills, thrills, and cozy fireside moments of this affable true-life adventure.

First Snow. by Peter McCarty. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Balzar & Bray. 2015. Tr $16.99. First SnowISBN 9780062189967.

PreS-Gr 1–Pedro has just arrived for a visit, and when cousin Sancho and his siblings realize that he has never seen snow before, they can’t wait to show him the ropes (and slopes). Though he’s at first hesitant (he doesn’t like the cold), it takes only one wild sled ride (and a gleeful airborne wipeout) for Pedro to be sold. McCarty’s softly textured animal characters are endearingly childlike, unfailingly enthusiastic, and sweetly amusing.

FloraFlora and the Penguin. by Molly Idle. illus. by author. Chronicle. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452128917.

PreS-Gr 1–The effervescent star of Flora and the Flamingo (Chronicle, 2013) returns, this time partnering with a personable penguin in a wordless pas de deux. The two skate in perfect unison—their silhouettes a delightful parallel of rounded shapes and frosty hues—until the bird wrecks the routine by diving through an ice hole for a fish. A conflict ensues and ruffled feathers must be smoothed before this budding friendship can be sealed with a triumphant example of balletic collaboration. Perfectly timed lift flaps enhance this beguilingly illustrated romp.

Fox's GardenFox’s Garden. by Princesse Camcam. illus. by author. Enchanted Lion. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781592701674.

PreS-Gr 3–On a frosty evening, a fox creeps into a town looking for shelter, is shooed away by villagers, and finally finds refuge in a backyard greenhouse. Watching from a window, a compassionate boy immediately brings over a basket of food, quietly setting it down near the mother and her just-born kits. Later, the appreciative animals sneak into the sleeping youngster’s room and plant a glorious garden of flowers. Illustrated with remarkably detailed cut-paper dioramas and resounding with emotion, this wordless picture book shows how small acts of kindness can blossom into something wonderful.

OutsideOutside. by Deirdre Gill. illus. by author. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547910659; ebook $16.99. ISBN 9780544151505.

PreS-Gr 2–Fresh-fallen snow beckons, and a boy, ignored by his computer-playing older brother, reluctantly heads outside alone. Never fear—he quickly discovers that imagination is a potent playmate, and his simple outdoor endeavors snowball into a fanciful frolic complete with smiling ice creature, dazzling winter castle, and sunset-hued dragon. Gill’s succinct text encourages readers to look closely at the oil-on-paper paintings and discover the mystery and magic that await.

Snowman’s Story. by Will Hillenbrand. illus. by author. Snowman's StoryAmazon/Two Lions. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847879.

PreS-Gr 2–Just built by animals, a snowman comes to life when a wind-whisked stovepipe hat is deposited upon his head and reads aloud to his new friends from a large green storybook. When everyone falls asleep, a hat-hidden rabbit sneaks out, snatches the tome, and dashes off. So begins a merry chase across a snow-swept landscape until the thief’s tree-trunk home is reached and its motivation revealed (sharing the book with baby bunnies, of course!). The wordless offering’s mixed-media illustrations are infused with fast-paced action, entrancing winter magic, and book-loving charm.

SupertruckSupertruck. by Stephen Savage. illus. by author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. 2015. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781596438217.

PreS-K–While other brave vehicles perform important tasks such as repairing power lines or quelling fires, a mild-mannered garbage truck quietly roams the city collecting trash. However, when a terrible blizzard brings everything to a halt, the garbage truck sneaks into a garage and transforms into Supertruck—able to dig out the streets with red plow, blazing headlights, and shining smile. The next morning, he once again dons his Clark Kent-style glasses and serenely returns to work. Told with simple but power-packed text and bold artwork.

Virgil & OwnVirgil and Owen. by Paulette Bogan. illus. by author. Bloomsbury. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619633728; ebook $6.99. ISBN 9781619635142.

PreS-Gr 2–When Virgil the penguin comes across a polar bear on his iceberg, he’s determined to keep the critter for his own. As the bear spends an enjoyable day splashing across ice floes with the terns, sliding down slopes with the seals, and twirling on ice with the other penguins, the bossy bird remains obnoxiously proprietary. Finally fed up, Owen gently asserts his independence, patiently waits out Virgil’s subsequent tantrum, and cheerfully invites the penguin to play. This tale about learning to navigate friendship is told with vivacious artwork, gentle humor, and wise awareness of a child’s emotional world.

What Forest KnowsWhat Forest Knows. by George Ella Lyon. illus. by August Hall. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442467750; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781442467767.

K-Gr 4–Walking through the trees, a boy and his bounding dog discover the many amazing things that a forest knows, beginning with cold-weather marvels (“snow—/icy branches/frozen waterfall/squirrels asleep in hollows/insects burrowed in bark”), continuing through the changing seasons (“Forest knows buds—soft life pushing through/hard wood” or “…fruit—/berries, nuts, cones/to seed new trees”), and circling back again to winter. This lovely and lyrical picture book invites readers to become familiar with nature’s ever-changing surprises.

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. by Joyce Sidman. illus. by Rick Allen. Houghton Winter BeesHarcourt. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547906508; ebook $17.99. ISBN 9780544465077.

K-Gr 4–Tundra swans dream about their upcoming migration; snakes slither underground to “sheltered stones” to brumate en masse; beavers “groom, snack, kiss” in their cozy “under-ice world;” finally, tiny springtails (“snow fleas”) swarm up through the snow as “the trees grow wet and dark/and the earth warms and softens.” Twelve eloquent poems are paired with handsome linoleum-block prints and mesmerizing informational sidebars to introduce far north flora and fauna and their wintertime adaptations. Fact-filled and wonder-infused, this book is a sublime amalgamation of science and art.

The Winter TrainThe Winter Train. by Susanna Isern. illus. by Ester Garcia. Cuento De Luz. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9788415784845; Spanish Language ed. (Tren de invierno). Tr $16.95 ISBN 9788415784807.

PreS-Gr 2–As the days grow colder, the animals of the Northern Forest board the Winter Train and settle in for their annual journey to warmer climes. When Genet realizes that Squirrel has been left behind, they all agree to go back for her despite the possibility of becoming stranded in the snow, a quest that will require cleverness, camaraderie, and cooperation. Quietly descriptive narrative and whimsical warm-hued illustrations tell an enchanting tale of friendship.

Winter’s Coming: A Story of Seasonal Change. by Jan Thornhill. illus. by Josée Bisaillon. Winter's ComingOwlkids. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771470025.

K-Gr 2–A young snowshoe hare is surprised when the leaves change color in her forest home and its many inhabitants prepare for the arrival of winter. Should Lily fly south like the blackbirds, store spruce cones like a hardworking red squirrel, or squeeze under a rock to hibernate like a frog? Asking many questions, she learns about the different ways that critters deal with the arrival of cold weather as well as her own adaptations (the winsome collage illustrations show her coat gradually transforming from brown to white). Two pages of animal and environment facts complete this engaging story.

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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