The Snow Day

The Snow Day by Komako Sakai

On a very snowy day, a little rabbit awakens to discover that the snow has cancelled school.  His mother doesn’t want him to go out in the storm, but he sneaks onto the balcony to make a snow dumpling.  His mother can’t go to the grocery store, so they play cards together.  His father can’t return from his trip because of the storm.  All around them it is only snow, no traffic, just them and the snow.  When the little rabbit is getting ready for bed, he realizes the snow has stopped and he can go outside.  In the dark, they play together in the snow.

There is a tenderness in this book, a timelessness that is so beautiful.  Sakai’s art is expressive and beautiful, showing an artistry that is unusual for children’s books.  The rabbit’s ears show so much of their feelings, a small note that really carries the book.  The words of the book are understated and brief.  One can feel the emotions through the illustrations, but the words do not thrust them upon the reader.  Each reader brings themselves to the book and can see themselves reflected in its subtlety.  Simply masterful.

This is one of my favorite books of the year.  Highly recommended for a quiet snow day at home, this book will not work for a raucous group of preschoolers because of its quietness.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Pirates, Ho!

Pirates, Ho! by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.

This jaunty, funny book is an ideal read-aloud for any swashbuckling event you may be planning.  The pirates here are cartoony and friendly, but also willing to send someone to Davy’s Locker if necessary.  They chase down other ships, seek treasure, and force people to walk the plant.  All accompanied with the cry of Pirates, Ho!  Everything children love about pirates is right here for them to enjoy.

Gilpin’s silly illustrations very effectively make this a fun book.  Where the text could take it in a darker direction, the illustrations keep it firmly in a light-hearted spirit.  Thomson’s words are rhythmic and one can almost hear the music in them: a jaunty pirate tune of course. 

A winning pirate book that is one of the easiest to read aloud that I have seen, this book is appropriate for ages 4-6.