By March my friends are usually ready to shoot me, because I never get tired of snow. There's so much fun to be had, as these new picture books confirm.
Barbara Reid’s Perfect Snow does just what its title suggests, by beautifully capturing the joyful rush of newly fallen snow. Reid’s sharply written text begins with the utter glee of kids waking up to snow, and their growing excitement as recess approaches.
Reid’s unique artistic approach adds a three-dimensional quality to her illustrations that makes readers feel as though they, too, are out amid the icy drifts. She molds figures out of Plasticine, a modeling clay, and combines these creations with ink and watercolor panels. The resulting scenes are colorful and lively, such as a bird’s-eye view of a schoolyard filled with kids, and the words, “The recess bell set off a stampede. Kids swarmed the snow like ants on a dropped ice cream cone.”
This playground becomes the scene of possible conflict: Jim is determined to build a “totally massive, indestructible Snow Fortress of Doom,” while Scott labors to make a team of snowmen. Happily, when Jim’s resulting “blizzard of destruction” threatens to destroy Scott’s creation, Jim deftly steps in and saves the day.
ALONG FOR THE RIDE
Preschoolers will enjoy Lita Judge’s Red Sled, the story of a little girl who lives in a mountain cabin and leaves her red sled out on her front porch. A curious bear approaches one night and decides to take the sled for a joy ride, and soon finds himself zooming with wild abandon down the snowy slopes. Before long the bear is joined by a menagerie that includes a rabbit, moose, possum, porcupine and mouse.
Judge deftly illustrates the fun as the animals bask in their growing speed. Her text is nearly wordless except for onomatopoeic words that parallel the animals’ adventures: “alley-oop,” “gadung gadung,” “whoa,” and finally, upon landing, “fluoomp……ft.” Parents and kids will enjoy this sweet, energy-filled tale, and will be amused to see what happens once the little girl discovers that her sled has been “borrowed.”
The fun always comes to an end, and Alison McGhee’s Making a Friend addresses the inevitable cycle of falling and melting snow. A little boy carefully makes a snowman, but later wonders where his beloved friend goes after it melts. As spring arrives, the boy observes, “Look. He is in the falling water / and the rain upon the ocean.”
In what becomes a gentle meditation not only on snow, but on the changing of the seasons and the cycle of life, the text repeats the message, “What you love will always be with you.” The boy enjoys summer and fall, and finally, winter returns, as does his snowman. Marc Rosenthal’s illustrations add resonance to the book’s message, managing to be wistful, meditative and yet concrete, focusing on the transforming elements of this youngster’s world.
After a cold winter’s day, grab one of these books, a steaming cup of cocoa, and let it snow!