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Winter is in full force so why not cuddle up by the fire with snowy books. Here are some great picture books for ages four to eight. The last three books are good for ages nine and up.
Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman, and beautifully illustrated on scratchboard and watercolors by Beth Krommes, is a story sparsely told through poetry about the role of a snow filled night. A young girl walks home with her mom and if you look closely, you’ll see a first snowflake fall. As the night progresses, so does the snowstorm, making the next morning a blanket of white. The poetic text reads, “change the world before morning: make it slow and delightful…and white.” The opening end-pages are filled with dark rumbling clouds. The closing end-pages show snowflakes filling the sky. This story is a potential Caldecott winner!
Guess How Much I Love You in the Winter (Deluxe Cut Paper Edition), by Sam McBratney, and illustrated by Anita Jeram, has the same endearing story about Little Nutbrown Hare and his father Big Nutbrown Hare. But this newly revised packaged version has a nice cover with sprinkles of foil and clever 3-D layering on almost every page.
Blue Penguin, by Petr Horacek, is a story about keeping a positive outlook and not letting others negatively affect a situation. When a blue penguin is born, others let him know that he is not like them. In fact, he can’t dive or jump quite as well as his peers nearby and they leave him stranded. It all changes when he makes up a song and all who hear it want to learn how to sing it. And Blue Penguin is never lonely again. The bright blues and greens of mixed media fill every page.
The Most Perfect Snowman, by Chris Britt, has a powerful message in this sweet, simple story. Drift was made early in the season and only has sticks for arms and pieces of coal for his eyes and mouth. As Winter wears on, other snowmen are abundantly built with colorful scarves, hats and mittens. Drift is made fun of due to his plainness. All he dreams about is having pretty clothes and a carrot nose. When three children find him, they give him a bright red scarf and a carrot for his nose. But he soon gives his scarf and carrot away when he sees a small rabbit in need. The watercolor and acrylics are used masterly with an abundance of white background for snow.
The Red Prince, by Charlie Roscoe, and vividly illustrated by Tom Clohosy, is a thrilling new story about a prince who is trying to escape his captors. As he flees in his red pajamas, the enemy is pursuing him. But he is about to discover something quite remarkable that helps him escape. Snow is falling throughout this adventure helping set the tone.
Best in Snow, by April Pulley Sayre, is a gorgeous celebration of snow with elegant photos and sparse prose. A cardinal with puffed out feathers sitting atop a frozen branch, clumps of snow amid branches and a frozen river are some of the gorgeous photographs. The text reads like a window into each glistening page: “Snowfall quickens / and thickens / Snow clumps and clings.” Be sure to check out the “Secrets of Snow” found at the back of the book.
Every Color, by Erin Eitter Kono, tells the tale of a polar bear living high in the Arctic tiring of the lack of color surrounding him. All he sees continually is white. When a small girl takes him around the world to see world landmarks rich with color, he is thrilled (some of these places include a Dutch windmill and an Egyptian pyramid). But when he returns to his bleak world, he discovers the Northern Lights create color all year right where he lives. Each area Bear visits is filled with a particular color and illustrated with mixed media. There could be much discussion involving where Bear visits that could enlighten young listeners.
Poles Apart, by Jeanne Willis, and brightly painted digitally by Jarvis, is a delightful adventure involving a polar bear and a family of penguins. When this family from Antarctica gets lost and ends up in the Arctic, a polar bear, anxious for an adventure, takes them back home. Along the way back they experience a ride atop a double-decker bus in London and waterskiing in Australia. The book is full of humor and clever asides bring much to enjoy throughout this great book! This story will be begged to be read over and over again!
Little Penguin, by Cynthia Rylant, and painted with acrylic and cleverly using cut paper collage by Christian Robinson, is a simple story with a brief text about going outside during winter. Five penguins look outside their igloo and see snowflakes and desire to go outside. As they look for mittens and scarves, one penguin doesn’t appear to be as excited to go out. Four penguins go out and find the snow is deep and mama and Penguin #five come out to help them back inside where it’s warm. This is a perfect winter bedtime story for a quick read.
The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman, is about how young Nick is caught in a blizzard as he runs away from his uncle’s house. He runs into a bookstore where he meets Evil Wizard Smallbone. Smallbone won’t let just him leave but he won’t teach him magic either. However, when Nick discovers Smallbone’s arch enemy, he sees that Smallbone is like a nice puppy compared to Evil Fidelou. This story is exciting, funny and a page turner from beginning to end!
Find the Constellations, by H. A. Rey, is one of the best books to help kids locate star constellations in the winter night sky. This is a revised book that has updated planetary and solar system information. The layout is simple and clear so that Mr. Rey’s drawings are easy to decipher where in the sky each winter constellation can be found according to where you live in the U.S. This book will become a favorite for all ages.
The Stars (A New Way to See Them), also by H. A. Rey, is another classic book that is also recently revised and updated. There is a clear layout for each of the seasons to locate specific stars and constellations. It also includes dates and specific times of when to look at the night skies in order to locate a specific constellation. Both of these books are perfect reference books for families of all ages. I’m betting they will be enjoyed and used for years to come!