A Friend in Winter

minedition. Oct. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9789888341870.
Gr 1-3–New friends are some of life’s greatest gifts. A lonely cat, Leo, is desperate for a friend. Though he loves his human, Walter, it is just not the same as having a friend he can play with. One day, Leo wakes up from a nap outside at the same moment that a squirrel begins foraging for nuts nearby; in no time, Leo and the squirrel become fast friends. As autumn turns to fall and snow arrives, Leo is in for another surprise. In his enthusiasm to investigate the falling snow, he loses sight of his home and must rely on the goodness of the other forest animals to see him safely through the frosty night. Intricately lifelike illustrations recount this story of a cat and his forest friends. Readers immediately feel the sensation of winter from the images, which encapsulate at once the excitement of exploring the snow outside and the desire to be warm and cozy inside. Leo the cat is nearly photographic in his depiction, making it easy to forget that the images are illustrated. The sentences and paragraphs are of medium length, though it is important to note that the phrasing is somewhat choppy and does not match the exquisite quality of the illustrations. Elementary-aged students will no doubt love the visual component of this book, but the story itself is lacking.
VERDICT Fans of Jan Brett’s The Mitten will appreciate this more advanced, similar story as they prepare for the winter ahead.

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