March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Great Books: Celebrating Winter

Filled with cold-weather escapades, charismatic characters, and crystalline emotions, these entrancing picture books are perfect for snow-themed storytimes, or for sharing one-on-one along with cuddles and a hot cocoa.

Winter1Before Morning. by Joyce Sidman. illus. by Beth Krommes. HMH. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547979175; ebook $17.99. ISBN 9781328686091.
PreS-Gr 2–After a cozy evening with her parents, a child reluctantly bids good night to her mother, an airline pilot. Feathery snowflakes begin to fall as the woman leaves for the airport, and the storm intensifies throughout the night, shutting down the city and causing cancelled flights. Morning brings the yearned-for return of the girl’s mother, and a joyful day spent playing outdoors, snuggling inside, and reveling in the warmth of family affection. Sidman’s spare poem and Krommes’s detail-packed scratchboard and watercolor artwork convey eloquent emotion, the beauty of nature, and the magic of a wish come true.

winter2Best in Snow. by April Pulley Sayre. photos by author. S & S/Beach Lane. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481459167; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781481459174.
PreS-Gr 2–In this companion to Raindrops Roll (Beach Lane, 2015), terse verse and striking photographs reveal the splendor of a snowfall and the workings of the winter water cycle. Zoomed-in pictures show snowflakes sailing through air to “land/on a squirrel’s nose,” dust bird wings, or outline the shape of a tree branch. Later on, snow is transformed by changing conditions—sparkling in sunlight, shifting in the wind, freezing and thawing to create feathery crystal formations. When the air warms, the snow melts into “icicle tips” and a “mushy…slushy” mess—until the next storm arrives. An author’s note explains the science behind the poem, making this book as informative as it is enchanting, and a stand out for both storytime and STEAM explorations.

winter3Bunny Slopes. by Claudia Rueda. illus. by author. Chronicle. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781452141978.
PreS-Gr 1–An affable bunny sporting a red scarf and plenty of enthusiasm invites his audience along for a ski day, but he will need some help to make the outing a success. Readers “shake” the book to make snow, “tilt” the volume to create a downhill slope, and turn it upside-down to aid an aerial maneuver. Looking good, Bunny dodges one die-cut hole but ends up falling through another (“Aaaagh!…Oops”), equipment flying everywhere. Never fear, he’s now back in his comfortable den, where Mom greets him with a cup of hot cocoa. Simple text, expressive artwork, and a genius book design make this interactive picture book a hit.

winter4First Snow. by Bomi Park. illus. by author. Chronicle. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452154725.
Toddler-PreS–Awakened by a gentle “pit, pit, pit” against her window, a young girl pulls on warm clothing and heads out into the quiet night to explore. The snowball she forms in her backyard grows ever larger as she rolls it along city streets, across fields, through the woods, and into a clearing where she joins other children to create snow people…and an enchanting bit of magic. In this lovely import from South Korea, succinct text and beguiling artwork deftly blend realism with imagination to capture the captivating wonder of a first snow.

winter5Little Penguins. by Cynthia Rylant. illus. by Christian Robinson. Random House/Schwartz & Wade. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553507706; PLB $20.99. ISBN 9780553507713; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780553507720.
PreS–Five winsome penguins enthusiastically welcome winter by donning mittens and matching scarves, pulling on socks and boots, and heading outdoors to cavort in the fresh-fallen snow. Spare text and vivacious acrylic paint and cut-paper collages capture the exhilarating fun of snow play and the contentment of returning indoors to comfy jammies, warm cookies, and comfy beds. Perfect for storytime sharing, this charmer also provides young listeners with opportunities for counting, color-matching, and elucidating their favorite winter pursuits.

winter6Pablo in the Snow. by Teri Sloat. illus. by Rosalinde Bonnet. Holt/Christy Ottaviano. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781627794121; ebook $9.99. ISBN 9781250148728.
PreS-K–Seeing snowflakes for the first time, a small sheep ventures outdoors to investigate. Joined by his woodland friends, he quickly discovers that this fluffy substance is great for sled riding, snowball fighting, and snowman making. When he gets lost in the storm and is rescued by his parents, Pablo concludes that “Snow is for big adventures,” but home is snug and warm. Charming frost-hued illustrations, rendered in India ink and watercolor, depict the details of a satisfying day stuffed with new experiences.

winter7 (2)Pizza-Pie Snowman. by Valeri Gorbachev. illus. by author. Holiday House. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823436545.
PreS-Gr 2–Mommy sends Pinky out to get a pizza on a wintery day, and he makes up a poem to remember all of their favorite toppings (“Mushrooms, mozzarella cheese,/Fresh tomatoes, onions, peas”). Busy concentrating as he walks to town, the little pig doesn’t realize that an avalanche of snow falling from a tree branch has covered him from head to toe. When he passersby chatter about seeing a walking snowman, he has no idea they are referring to him. The snow melts away inside the warm pizzeria, and Pinky gets the order just right. Back home, after devouring the still-hot treat, mother and son decide to take a stroll to try to spot the much-rumored snowman. Warm-hued watercolor artwork, endearing animal characters, and a visual joke that will have youngsters giggling throughout make this book a storytime treat.

winter8Samson in the Snow. by Philip C. Stead. illus. by author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721821.
K-Gr 2–Samson, a woolly mammoth, spends his days caring for his beloved dandelion patch, but gladly gives three of his best flowers to a red bird who passes by and requests the blossoms to comfort a buddy. When a sudden storm blows in, Samson trudges out into the swirling snow to ensure that the bird is safe, a rescue mission that results not in one new friend but two. A text at once accessible and wise and soft-edged artwork convey the importance of kindness and companionship.

winter9Wolf in the Snow. by Matthew Cordell. illus. by author. Feiwel & Friends. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250076366; ebook $9.99. ISBN 9781250148308.
PreS-Gr 3–Exhilarating adventure and extraordinary acts of generosity unfurl in this mostly wordless picture book. Heavy snowflakes are just beginning to fall as a girl, bundled head to toe in a red parka, leaves school and heads for home. When she discovers a lost wolf pup, the brave youngster treks through ever-deepening snow and faces numerous dangers to reunite it with its pack, heard howling in the distance. Now exhausted and far from home, the frightened girl huddles alone beneath the darkening sky, but the wolves soon gather round to return the favor. Done in pen and ink with watercolor, the artwork features snow-swept woodland landscapes, realistically depicted and thrillingly feral wolves, and a satisfying range of powerfully expressed emotions.

winter10Wonderful Winter. by Bruce Goldstone. Holt. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099812; ebook $9.99.
PreS-Gr 3–Illustrated with crisp and colorful photo collages, this eye-grabbing follow up to Awesome Autumn (Holt, 2012) explores the amazing ins and outs of winter. Brief and clearly written paragraphs delve into the science of this season, explaining why trees drop their leaves, the many different ways that animals adapt to cold weather, how snowflakes form, and other frosty mysteries. Artfully arranged spreads interspersed throughout focus on sensory observations (“How does winter feel?”), winter sports, and winter basics (clothing, snow-moving equipment, etc.). This fun-to-browse book ends with seasonal crafts and a nod toward “spectacular spring.”

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.



  1. “by Valeri Gorbachev”
    I don’t agree, read:

    Sincerely, Rebeca