Monday, January 14, 2008

Winter Wonderful

I am not a fan of winter, overall, because I loathe being cold. But I will give it this - it's beautiful, and makes for really magical picture books. The way it fuels a child's imagination, too, makes for great stories. So while I may not adore the season, I do love the literature.

Animals in Winter

When Winter Comes, by Nancy Van Laan, ill. Susan Gaber

A repetitive chorus asks where many different animals go "when winter comes and the cold winds blow." The rhyming replies tell children about deer, who huddle for warmth, about birds, who fly away, about caterpillars in their coccoons, and more. The illustrations have a folk art feeling about them, and the whole has a quiet, meditative feeling about it. I love this one for sharing.

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep, by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, ill. Brooke Dyer

Perhaps because I love lullabies so, I think this is sweet, and while it skirts close to too sweet, keeps just on the right side of the line. Using the old classic, "Sleep, Baby, Sleep," it sings a lullaby to many different animals, as it shows them preparing for their winter naps in nooks, nests, and dens.

Time for Bed, by Denise Fleming

This is a super-simple book, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, which seem to be Fleming's specialty. Her bold illustrations are sublter here, using greay and browns for the bears and their cave, and the tone a little quieter, as a mother bear puts her baby bear to sleep for the winter.

I also love Karma Wilson's series of Bear books, most of which revolve around Bear's hibernation, although they are not as directly addressing it.

Fun in the... Snow, If You Can Imagine!

Stella, Queen of the Snow, by Marie-Louise Gay

The irrepressible Stella leads her reluctant brother Sam through a number of winter activities, and while her wild mane of red hair and exhuberant nature make her a star, it's the questions and repartee between the two that really makes these books. Some of her answers are pure made-up silliness, but Sam's questioning is simply brilliant. I love this whole series, really.

Boot Weather, by Judith Vigna

This is not a complicated book, a gorgeously illustrated book, or a beautifully told story. It is, instead, a nice idea, and one that I have enjoyed in other books. In it, one page shows a yonug girl playing outside in "boot weather," while the opposing page shows what she imagines herself doing. I am all for supporting and encouraging imagination, so while it isn't one that will blow you away, I like this older one anyhow.

Magic Moments

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen, ill. John Schoenherr

This Caldecott medalist won its gold fair and square, with haunting illustrations of the woods in the moonlight bringing loads of atmosphere to Yolen's quiet, evocative text. In it, a young girl and her father go "owling," looking for owls in the woods. As they walk on, calling to owls, the shadows grow longer, she recites in her mind the lessons about being quiet and brave and hopeful, and suddenly, they see one, catching it in the circle of a flashlight. This book is just plain magic in its capturing of a shared moment of wonder between father and child.

All About Snowflakes

Snip, Snip... Snow!, by Nancy Poydar

Sophie is anxiously awaiting a big snowfall, when she hits on the idea of getting her class to create their own snowflakes by cutting paper. It's a simple story of how magical snow can be for a child eager to sled and build snowmen, and contains instructions at the back for making snowflakes yourself.

Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, ill. Mary Azarian

This early picture book biography is simple enough for a yonger child to follow, yet interesting enough to hold much older children, who may also appreciate the sidebar information. Snowflake Bentley was a self-educated man in Vermont who developed his own method of photographing snowflakes, and discovered the many intricate forms they can take. Every photograph of snowflakes you see, everything we know about snow, started with him, because he was obsessed with snow. The illustrations suit the story well, being slightly folky in feel, with the look of bold woodcuts that suit the time and place. One of my very favourites.

Poetry by the Season

Winter Poems, sel. by Barbara Rogasky, ill. Trina Schart Hyman

These poems range from teh simple to the classic, and include an incredible range of authors. Hyman's always-lovely illustrations bring the whole thing up another notch.

Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children

Once Upon Ice and other Frozen Poems, by Jane Yolen, photos by Jason Stemple.

Short poems by one of kidlit's most prolific authors are illustrated with simply stunning photographs in this beautiful pair of books. I love sharing these even with the very young.

Find these and more cool winter tales at your public library!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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