Winter Dance, from Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and British illustrator Richard Jones, is a gentle tale of the coming of winter in the forest. The lilting language, soothing colors and finely textured artwork engage young readers in a fox’s wonder as snow covers the ground, softening the world around him.
When the fine red fox feels the tingle of the first snowflake settling on his nose, he ponders how to pass the cold winter days ahead. Plenty of creatures are happy to advise him. A caterpillar suggests a cozy chrysalis, but the fox knows a cocoon is not for him. A turtle suggests a dive beneath the cool, snug mud as he disappears into the pond, but the fox isn’t big on ooze. The bats whirring above his head tell him to dip into a cave and hang upside down by his toes, but that won’t work either. The fox decides he should stay put, even as the geese overhead leave for warmer climes.
A snowshoe hare suggests he try the magic trick of turning white to match the “whitening world,” but the fox likes his red fur. Even the great black bear curls up for a long nap, leaving the fox quite alone.
Awake in a sleeping world, the fox feels energized, but the wind soon calms him with a hush. When a low whistle calls, he’s delighted to meet another fine red fox who finally shares what foxes do in winter. They dance!
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.