My Winter City by James Gladstone, illustrated by Gary Clement (9781773060101)
Experience the wonder of a snowy day in the city with this picture book. Told in poetic text, the story invites you to journey with a child and their father through the snowy streets early in the morning. There is slush and moving buses, plenty of footprints from other people. The bus is crowded and steamy as it takes them to the sledding hill. There they sled and have plenty of snowy fun, even stopping to make snow angels in the park. They return home, sleepy from all of the cold activities outside.
Gladstone’s text really makes this a special day. He creatively shows the beauty of snowfall in the city, including all of the sights and sounds of the experience. Readers will love the descriptions of “crinkly ice crystals” and “light powder pillows” of snow. At one point, they walk past a greenhouse which is “like a warm, rainy summer in a country far away.” All of these small elements and quiet touches add up to a full experience of a wintry day.
Clement’s illustrations embrace the falling snow from a variety of perspectives. He makes sure that the urban setting is central to all of the images, showing the bustle and busyness around the pair of characters. There is a sense of warmth and community here as well.
A snowy day filled with urban delights. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin (9780316478366)
This follow-up to the award-winning A Big Mooncake for Little Star focuses on wintry weather. Little Snow is given a great big bed by his mother, perfect for jumping on! His mother tells him not to bounce on it though and just sleep on it. But Little Snow just can’t resist bouncing and jumping a little bit. When he jumps, feathers fall out of the big bed and drift down. Little Snow does sometimes get a bit more excited and then jumps so hard that the bed bursts open and a lot of feathers come out. By the end of the winter, the bed is entirely empty, just a shell of what it once was.
In the same playful way as the first book, Lin captures a natural phenomenon with a gentle joy. Both books have the attentive mother, who sets rules which are broken by the children. But in both instances, the mothers are fully aware of what is actually happening and the tone is one of merry acceptance rather than frustration.
The illustrations here show exactly what is happening long before the larger reveal of snow falling on earth. The bed is shaped like a large blue cloud and the snowflakes on everyone’s clothes make it very clear as well. The use of the white background with the clothing that disappears into it is beautifully done, offering a magical border-free feel.
Another winner from the multi-talented Lin. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Little Mole’s Wish by Sang-Keun Kim (9780525581345)
Little Mole was heading home alone on the first day of snow, when he met a snowball on the path. He brought the snowball along with him to the bus stop. He waited for a bus, but the driver wouldn’t let him on with a snowball. So Little Mole sculpted the snowball into a bear. But the next driver realized it was still a snowball. So Little Mole gave the snow bear a backpack. The two waited a very long time together for the next bus, long enough that Little Mole shared his hat in case the bear was cold. That bus allowed them both to board. On the warm bus, Little Mole fell asleep and when he woke up his friend was gone. The bus driver urged him to head home, saying his friend must have gotten off at another stop. Little Mole got home and told his grandmother all about his day. When he went to bed, he wondered where his friend had gone. In the morning, his grandmother called him with a big surprise!
There is so much magic about this picture book that was originally published in South Korea. Little Mole is an entirely winning character who problem solves along the way, creating a bear just as charming as he is. The words and illustrations work seamlessly together here as Little Mole builds a friend from snow. Readers will have a series of surprises as the book goes on, including the two riding the bus together and then the final surprise that ensures everyone will know that wishes come true.
Kim’s illustrations are soft and dreamy, done in colored pencil, pastel, pen and digital. They are full of small touches that bring the entire world to life with an owl sleeping in the hollow tree, Mole having a similar teddy bear to the bear he builds from snow, and each bus matching its driver in design, including the final bus having deer antlers.
A perfect read for the first snow. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade.
Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss, illlustrated by Lou Rancher and Steve Johnson (9781338089493)
When the snow starts to fall, a snowplow driver and his dog head out into the night to clear the roads. They do safety checks and get the hopper filled with salt and sand. Then they are off into the dark to clear the snow from the roads. Giant drifts are formed as they plow past while branches grow heavy with snow. When a car goes by too fast and ends up in the ditch, the plow calls dispatch for a tow for them. At the railroad tracks, the plow driver also stops, stepping out of the cab of his truck into into the hush of the night. The train goes by, creating a cloud of white. The driver heads home just as others start to wake and falls asleep in bed as the sun rises.
Bruss captures the quiet beauty of a snowstorm as she tells about the night work of clearing the roads. She writes with a poetic touch, creating dramatic moments in the story like the train going past and the car skidding into the ditch, but also embracing the silent work of the plow and the hush of the storm.
The illustrations are wonderful, offering looks at the big truck that will appeal to youngsters who love heavy machinery but also beautifully capturing the storm. One double-spread in particular has just the right light as the truck goes through town. Anyone living in a northern state will recognize that light and the quiet moment before the plow comes through.
Ideal for winter reading, curl up with this one before being plowed out yourself. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Scholastic.
Captain’s Log: Snowbound by Erin Dionne, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (9781580898256)
All set to give his presentation on Ernest Shackleton, a boy is instead stuck at home due to a major snowstorm. The boy chronicles his adventure using journal entries like Shackleton’s to tell the tale. It all starts out fine with lots of food to share and a light heart. Then items begin to disappear and as the food dwindles, the boy must find out who the thief is before he ruins them all. Along the way, there is sledding, clearing the deck of snow and other merriment. Yet it may all lead to mutiny in the end.
Based on the author’s Facebook posts during the Boston snowstorm in 2015 that dumped 95 inches of snow, this book’s wry take on being stuck at home moves from being a joyous look at a snow day to a possible mutiny and lack of food. Still, the voice is always funny and the look at being a family stuck with one another for a length of time with resonate with children stuck home due to a storm or because of a holiday.
The illustrations are funny and detailed with cross-sections of the home, glimpses into windows, and vintage images from the Shackleton crew as well as objects of the time. The entire book cleverly plays on the Shackleton experience for laughter and context.
With a voice that makes for a great read aloud, this one is ideal to read with snow falling outside. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy provided by Charlesbridge.
Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loren Long (9780062383105)
A little bunny wakes up in the morning and greets the day, saying goodbye to the night. Trees, birds, kittens and more come to life as the day dawns. The day continues and then in the evening, the moon rises. Night begins and the bees and birds and town settle down once more into a quiet night. The poetry here by Brown is ever so lovely, lulling and sweet. It invites both a warm look at waking up but also a snuggly look at night coming. The illustrations by Long create a world of rabbits, a village filled with activity and a glimpse of nature responding to day and night as well. This is a picture book just right for bedtime or morning. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (9781481448451)
Walt is the smallest snowplow in the city’s fleet, so when the big storm arrives, no one wants to drive him. Soon the parking lot is empty with only Walt left behind. Then Gus arrives and merrily prepares to drive Walt into the storm. Walt works hard into the night to clear bridges and roads, trying to prove that he’s up to the big job. Then he reaches a big hill. They could leave it for a larger truck to handle, but Walt wants to try. He slips and slides all the way up, but getting down could be even worse! This picture book is a snowy riff on The Little Engine that Could, offering a bright red little hero willing to take on big challenges. The tone throughout is friendly and fun. Any little one who enjoys books about trucks will love curling up with this one during snow season. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)
Snow Scene by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (9781626726802)
Explore a snowy area with this inviting and engaging picture book. With very simple text that asks readers to guess at what is coming next, this book has a freshness that is very appealing. The simple text focuses on speaking directly to the reader, showing different aspects of a snowy day that slowly transitions to spring and then summer, where snow is only on the far mountain top. The art by Seeger has a strong textural element that will have small children running their fingers over the smooth pages. It is rich and inviting, sometimes close up and other times just hinting at what is to come. This seasonal picture book celebrates snow in all of its forms, winter and summer. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
A little girl heads home from school as snow starts to fall. She is warmly dressed for the weather in a bright-red coat and a scarf over her face. She has a dog at home waiting eagerly for her return. There is also a pack of wolves nearby with one small wolf cub. The snow falls faster and both girl and cub become lost, finding one another in a small grove of trees. They can hear the howls of the wolves, so the girl picks up the cub and heads that direction. Along the way, they have to cross a river and face other animals. When they reach the wolves, the little girl returns the cub to the pack and heads home herself. She can hear her dog barking and see the lights of home, but becomes too cold and weak to continue. Luckily, she has made friends of the wolves.
This is a beautiful story told in an almost wordless way with the only words in the form of howls of the wolves and barks of the dog. It is a book about selflessness and courage in the face of adversity. It is also about kindness and taking the time to save someone else even if it puts you into danger. The book is paced beautifully, taking time to create moments that underline the new connections and friendships being made as the girl displays her humanity.
The images have to carry this wordless book and do so with an appealing use of panels that create a sense of brisk pace and adventure throughout. The illustrations are filled with just enough drama to make it clear that there is real danger in being out on a winter night. Still, the danger never seems to be the wolves themselves but the cold and the snow.
A beautiful look at nature and wolves and the way that kindness can build bridges without words. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre (InfoSoup)
A companion book to Raindrops Roll, this book celebrates the wonder of snow. Combining lovely photography with a poem on the changing nature of snow, this picture book invites readers to see beyond the chill of winter and into the beauty of it. The book moves from freezing weather and gathering clouds to a full snowstorm where snowflakes land on a squirrel’s nose. The snow covers things and the wind blows. Then the sun returns, water starts to seep and icicles drip. But wait, there’s more snow on the way and another squirrel’s nose too.
Sayre has a beautiful tone here, one of wonder and deep understanding. She writes more detailed information about snow and water in a note at the end that also includes a bibliography of more resources. The progression of the book is lovely, moving from one storm into a brief respite of sun to another storm, something that those of us in a cold climate will recognize. The poetry is a mix of playfulness and natural facts that is very appealing.
Sayre’s photography is truly beautiful. She captures the motion of snow, the various way that the light hits it, the different forms it takes. She has images of animals and birds, allowing the reader to see snow from a natural point of view rather than a human one.
This is a wintry journey worth taking, perfect with a mug of cocoa. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
I always loved reading books about snow and snowmen around the holidays in public libraries since it still spoke to the season but included people of all faiths. Here are ten of my recent favorites:
Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
First Snow by Peter McCarty
Footprints in the Snow by Mei Matsuoka
Into the Snow by Yuki Kaneko, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito
The Smallest Snowflake by Bernadette Watts
Snow by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
The Snow Day by Komako Sakai
Snow Sounds: an Onomatopoeic Story by David Johnson
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na
Winter Is for Snow by Robert Neubecker