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
Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson (InfoSoup)
Five little penguin siblings head out into the snow on the first day of winter. There are many snowflakes in the air while they put on mittens, scarves and boots. The snow is very deep by the time they get dressed and outside. They play in the snow and then head back inside where they pull off their winter gear, put their pajamas on, have warm cookies and sippy cups. That night, they are warm in bed but one of them is still looking out the window at winter arriving.
Newbery Award winner, Cynthia Rylant has written this book with exactly the right amount of text for toddlers and young preschoolers. There is a lovely loose rhythm to the words, an excitement of new falling snow that is generated on the page. The rush to get ready, the enjoyment of their time playing outside and the warmth of returning inside to coziness is all nicely captured. Children who love snow themselves will recognize their days in these little penguins.
Robinson’s illustrations make this book very special. His bold colors, strong shapes and use of space create a lot of drama on the page. The way that each little penguin has their own color adds an element that parents and teachers can use to talk about the book. There is also the chance to count to five again and again. The huge flakes of snow are a delight to the eye, creating a feeling of joy and wonder on each page.
A toddler-friendly picture book, this is a cheery book celebrating the coming winter. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes (InfoSoup)
Days are busy, filled with activity. One child whose parent is heading off to pilot a plane in the early morning put her wishes into words in the form on an invocation. She asks for snow to come, to change the face of the city and the pace of their life. She wishes for a slowness and as the book continues readers will see the snow start to fall, the parent leave for the airport, then the airport start to fill with waiting passengers who are not going anywhere. Then the parent catches a snowplow ride back home where the family spends a day together in the snow sledding.
Sidman’s invocation is simple and heartfelt. She voices it with the clarity of a ringing bell and real honesty. She plays her quiet voice against the hustle and busyness of an urban setting, allowing the snow and the wonder of it to slow the entire book down to the pace of the invocation itself. It’s a beautiful effect, strengthened by the illustrations and the beauty of the words themselves.
I was thrilled to see another pairing of Sidman and Krommes. Krommes creates scratchboard illustrations that have the organic feel of block prints. They are rich with details and fill the pages with subtle colors and dancing snow. The art has an inherent warmth to it, inviting snuggling under covers together.
Another great achievement for this author and illustrator pair, this is a great winter story that focuses on family and time spent together. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Into the Snow by Yuki Kaneko, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito (InfoSoup)
Head into the snow with this picture book that shows the joy of winter and the wonder of a snowy day. A child heads out into the snow after bundling up inside. They have a sled along and also explore the way the snow falls softly, the cold of the day, and the icicles hanging nearby. There is a climb to the top of the hill, then the rush of going so quickly, a tumble and the joy of landing softly at the bottom. The snowy day ends with hot chocolate inside, a perfect treat after the cold snow.
This very simple book is told from the youngster’s point of view. Kaneko uses different senses to let the child explore their world. The snow is “soft” and “fluffy” while the icicle is “shiny and clear like glass.” It’s a book of exploration on one’s own, their parent only joining them to call them in at the end and offer the cocoa. The lack of gender for the child is also a great choice, allowing this to be any child’s adventure. This is an empowering read for small children who will want their own explorations on a joyous snowy day.
Saito’s illustrations are done in oil pastels, gouache, acrylic colors and color pencils. They have a delightful roughness that conveys the warmth of the child’s clothes and transformation created by the snow cover. The snow flakes are large and dense. They dance along with the colorful glitter on the child’s hat.
A great snowy day book for small children, this book evokes the feel of a snow day perfectly. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.