Tag: winter

Review: Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Tory Cummings

Released October 27, 2015

A new take on Little Red Riding Hood, this picture book fills the storybook forest with snow and takes readers on a twirling ride through several fairy tales. Little Red Gliding Hood loves to ice skate down the winding river to her grandmother’s house. She does it so often that her skates are wearing out. Then she discovers that the prize for the upcoming pairs skating competition is a new pair of skates. Now she just has to find the perfect partner. But many of the good skaters have already been taken. She asks her grandmother for ideas and her grandmother suggests her new neighbors who live in a brick house. When Little Red approaches the house, the Wolf shows up and chases her on the ice where they discover that they are both great skaters!

Lazar twists and turns the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale into a wintry wonder. She pays clear homage to the original, also making many nods to other fairy tales along the way like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Three Bears, and Humpty Dumpty. The entire book has a freshness to it, that makes for a lively read that is perfect both for children new to the story and for those familiar with the original.

The art by Cummings is filled with brisk winter colors of blues and whites. It is made cozy when Little Red visits her grandmother where they sit by the fire and the colors turn to oranges and reds. The art is playful and funny with lots of small touches, particularly when there are characters from lots of fairy tales in one place.

A terrific new take on a traditional tale, this picture book is a great pick for winter story times. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House.

Review: Finding Spring by Carin Berger

finding spring

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Maurice is a little bear cub who can’t stop thinking about spring. It may be time for him to go to sleep in the warm cave with his mother, but he stays awake and sneaks out of the cave to search for signs of spring. As he heads through the forest, he meets other animals all busily preparing for the winter. They don’t have time to talk to him for long but find time to warn him that spring’s arrival will take some time. Maurice smells something new on the air and runs towards it, thinking it is spring. When a snowflake falls, he is sure it is spring arriving so he scoops up some snow to keep spring with him and heads back to his mother to sleep. When he awakes in the warmer weather though, his piece of spring has disappeared. But in the end, Maurice manages to find spring all around him.

This picture book has a very simple story with elements that children will relate to. From not wanting to go to bed to the beauty of nature, this book celebrates it all. It is a book of curiosity, adventures and making your own discoveries along the way.

What makes this book exceptional are the illustrations. Berger works in cut paper and collage, creating dioramas that have dimension and shadows. The cut paper contains fragments of words and lovely textures. I particularly love the reverse side of a letter on gray paper being the flowing water in a stream. Throughout the book there are touches like this that work beautifully visually and are artistically inspired.

A lovely new springtime read, this picture book celebrates the seasons of winter and spring side by side. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

Review: Winter Bees by Joyce Sidman

winter bees

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Master nature poet, Sidman, takes readers on a journey through the wonders of nature during winter in this new book.  Each poem focuses on a specific animal, showing the amazing adaptations they have made in order to survive the cold temperatures.  Done in a variety of poetic formats and styles, all of the poems have a lush beauty to them.  Each poem is paired with a paragraph of information that further explains the animal and their lives during the winter months.  The animals include tundra swans, voles, fox, moose, birds, insects and of course bees. 

Sidman’s poems are exceptional.  She clearly has designed them for children, but they stretch vocabulary and concepts.  Even better, they reveal things below the surface, inviting further exploration and investigation of the concepts.  The nonfiction paragraphs are equally welcoming.  They are filled with fascinating facts and will have nature-loving children fully engaged.

Allen’s illustrations are linoleum prints.  They have such depth and texture, with details of feathers and fur clear on the page.  Done in vibrant colors, the illustrations show the color of the world despite its layer of white snow.  Rich and detailed, these illustrations are luminous on the page.

An amazing book of nature poetry, get this into the hands of teachers doing nature units, units on winter, and share the poems merrily with children at any time.  Simply gorgeous.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Winter Candle by Jeron Frame

winter candle

Winter Candle by Jeron Frame, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

The residents of the apartment building at Juniper Court celebrate a variety of holidays in the winter months.  It begins with Nana Clover at Thanksgiving who somehow forgot to get candles for her Thanksgiving table.  The building super finds her a lumpy candle and she uses it for her centerpiece.  Two weeks later, the Danziger family needs a havdalah candle for Sabbath.  Nana Clover gives them the lumpy candle she used.  A few days later, Kirsten needs one more candle for her Saint Lucia crown.  In winter, Donte’s little brother has chewed up one of the Kwanza candles.  Later in the winter, a new family has moved into the apartment building.  While they are waiting for their father to come back, the power goes out.  Guess which little candle helps light their night along with that of all the residents!

Filled with a strong sense of community and diversity, this picture book is about more than a litany of different traditions.  Using the small lumpy candle as a symbol, the book speaks to the power of shared moments as a family, the importance of a larger and supportive community, and the beauty of differences.  In each case, the candle is not what the family is looking for.  It’s the wrong color, the wrong shape, and the wrong size.  But it also works in all of its lack of perfection.  The writing in the book is weaves the various stories together, moving the candle from family to family and creating strong bonds.

The illustrations have a traditional feel.  They capture the power and beauty of the candle light as it shines in each family’s apartment.  In the final story, that light leads the father back home and thanks to the illustrations we believe that its power is more than one candle, more than the darkness, and as strong as the community around it.

Ideal for celebrating winter holidays in a way that is not Christmas centered, this picture book is a welcome addition to library shelves.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam

foxs garden

Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam

Gorgeously illustrated, this wordless picture book invites readers into a snowy world.  A fox finds her way into a village, warm lit against the cold snow that is falling.  She is shooed away by several people but discovers an open greenhouse.  A little boy sees her enter and brings her a basket of food.  Now there is a fox with four baby foxes nursing.  Soon after, the mother fox leads her kits to the boy’s room where they plant flowers from the greenhouse into his rug which he discovers in the morning.  The five foxes disappear back into the woods.

Done in cut-paper illustrations, the images have a beautiful 3-D quality to them.  You want to stroke the page and think that you will be able to lift flaps, so strong are the images. Against the white and gray snow and woods, the characters pop.  The fox gloriously orange in the snow and the little boy wearing red. 

Camcam lights her paper work beautifully as well, almost as if it were a stage.  She conveys the welcoming warmth of the light in the village, the yellow of the windows lit against the storm.  More subtly, she plays with shadows and underlighting in specific scenes, showing the cold and the night clearly.

This is a haunting picture book, done with an immense delicacy and skill.  Simply beautiful.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

Review: Sleep Tight, Little Bear by Britta Teckentrup

sleep tight little bear

Sleep Tight, Little Bear by Britta Teckentrup

Winter is coming and Little Bear and Mommy Bear have been getting their den ready for the cold weather.  Soon it will be time for them to hibernate for the winter and wake up again when the warmth of spring comes.  Little Bear is excited about hibernating, but before he and his mother go to sleep, he has to say goodbye to all of his friends.  Little Bear goes to each animal, wishing them a good winter and they all wish him a good sleep and promising to watch over him as he rests.  As they return to their den, the snow is starting to fall and the winds are blowing cold.  Inside their den, it is warm and cozy and Little Bear is fast asleep before he can even finish saying goodnight to his mother.

First published in Germany, Teckentrup’s picture book celebrates community and diversity without ever using those words on the page.  It is clear throughout the entire book that the bear family is beloved in the woods.  While some of the animals, like Owl, are not so friendly, the others are warmly affectionate to Little Bear.  Many of the animals speak about watching over and taking care of the bears as they hibernate.  They also speak about how different the bears are from them and sometimes briefly say what they will do in the winter.  The messages are subtle and woven into this story about animals.

The illustrations are a strong mix of textured trees and animals and more simple elements that allow the textures to stand out on the page.  One of the first pages in the book shows the entire forest as well as the animals that the bears will be visiting before they hibernate.  It’s almost a map to the story and offer a peek into what will come.

A book about a friendly community of animals, this picture book is perfect for reading on chilly autumn evenings and ideal for a bedtime read.  It will also be a welcome addition to seasonal story times and units on hibernation.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NorthSouth and NetGalley.

Review: Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston

winter is coming

Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche

A stunningly gorgeous picture book about the changing seasons, this is a perfect way to welcome winter even when you don’t want it to arrive.  The book begins on a cold day in September with a girl out in nature watching the animals.  She has along her drawing pad and climbs into a tree house to see even better.  From that platform, she sees a red fox stealing the last wrinkled fall apple from a low branch.  A mother bear and her cub are also in the woods searching for food.  As fall progresses, she sees different animals: a family of skunks, rabbits, woodpeckers, a lynx, chipmunks, deer and geese.  All are preparing for the approaching winter in their own way.  As winter gets closer, the animals stop appearing until the day the snow arrives when the red fox is out to see it too.

Johnston has created a book that truly shows children what it is like to be surrounded by the wonder of nature during one changing season.  Her poetry sparks on the page, showing not only the different animals but also explaining what is beautiful and special about each one.  Even more mundane animals like the chipmunks get this honor.  Young readers will be inspired to get outside and sit still and just watch.

The art from LaMarche is stunning.  He takes advantage of the length of the pages and creates wide landscapes that embrace the changing colors of the seasons.  They turn from the bright yellows of early fall to the deeper reds and browns and then to the chill grays of winter.  He uses light beautifully throughout and various perspectives that all center around one tree and one girl.  It is extraordinary.

Perfect pick for just this time of year, get your hands on this beautiful picture book and then be ready for adventures outside, hopefully with your own pen and paper along.  Appropriate for ages 4-8. 

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.