Okay. I love snow. I love a few drowsy flakes drifting in the air and I love winter storms that dump a foot of snow in vast, pillowy mounds enveloping everything; I love snow-muffs on evergreens and I love snow-glitter in the sunlight. I am utterly baffled by complaints about snow, and can’t think of a time when I felt like we’d had enough of it. I love snow!!
Here are five books which unabashedly glory in snow! Whether you are part of the I-Support-Snow-Squad or are, may I say, a Snow Grumpus, I do think you’ll enjoy these books!
Katy and the Big Snow, words and pictures by Virginia Lee Burton
Golly, I read this book a bajillion times to my son, I think!
Katy is a big, beautiful, red tractor with those caterpillar treads that allow her to maneuver despite all manner of troublesome terrain. She has a lot of other specs listed as well, of great interest to the more mechanically-minded! Anyway. She also comes with a number of Very Cool Attachments that fit her for special tasks, such as a bulldozer, and more importantly, a snow plow. One other thing about Katy: she is a workaholic! She love-love-loves to work for the Highway Department of Geoppolis. The harder the job, the happier is Katy.
So, Katy is thrilled to bursting when Geoppolis gets hit with the storm of the century. I am telling you! The snow reaches the second story windows before it stops! And, everything and everyone in the city stops with it. Geoppolis is completely socked in with snow. Until…
…Katy comes to the rescue!! And bit by bit, Katy plows out the whole, whopping city! Center city, Railway Station, Hospital, Airport, North, South, East and West, rescuing other broken down plows along the way. What a tractor!
This is a classic Virginia Lee Burton story, complete with bunches of friendly illustrations showing not only Katy’s heroics, but scads of other details, including many Super Cool Vehicles in the highway department arsenal, an Outstanding Map of the town, and Katy’s famous snowplowing route. A special favorite with many little boys.
The Snowy Day, story and illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats
Winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1963, this book, with its simple storyline and fantastic artwork is a snowy, cheery delight.
Peter is a little boy living in a big city — New York City, actually — and one morning he wakes up to find that the city has been transformed by a snowfall over night. So, he puts on his fire-engine red snowsuit with its jolly, pointy cap, and goes out to explore the snow in just the way a pre-schooler would. He examines his boot tracks…and finds other ways to make other curious tracks. He makes a snowman…and a snow angel…but finds out the hard way that the big boys’ snowballs are a bit much for him. He climbs and slides and flops and stomps…and then he goes back home, sopping wet, for a nice soak in a hot tub.
The charm of this book lies in its simplicity and Keats’ uncanny understanding of how small things interest and appeal to children, even in the midst of vast cities and landscapes. The artwork, for which Keats won the Caldecott, is also stunning in its appeal and simplicity. Simple shapes, glorious colors, intriguing textures, brilliant design, combine to make what has to be one of the most magical Caldecott books ever.
Happy Winter, written and illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer
For sheer exuberance and bubbling-over happiness, I don’t think you can match this book!
These two small sisters are happy, happy, happy throughout the long, busy days this book describes. Waking up to a gorgeous snowfall blanketing the New England-esque countryside where they live, scampering down to a pancake breakfast, and merrily playing in the snow, or staying indoors on sleety days to play make-believe games with friends, bake fudge cake with Mom (recipe included), make presents for Mom’s December birthday, read piles of books with mugs of cocoa, and bask in a steamy, bubble-bath tub. Who wouldn’t be happy with this agenda?
Besides the idyllic days described here, Gundersheimer’s illustrations are three-quarters of the charm. These two little noodles fairly dance off the page, their home radiates warmth, the pages are as colorful as a brand-new Crayola box, and the details of dress-up clothes and farmhouse kitchen, fuzzy pink slippers and children’s artwork tacked up throughout the house, are enchanting.
The text is written as one, long rhyming story. And, I must admit, it can become a bit tiresome at points. My kids never seemed to mind it, but the somewhat strained pattern is a bit much for me. But the timeless and imaginative fun these girls enjoy is lovely and the pictures are miniature doses of Good Cheer which push this book into a family-favorite category.
White Snow Bright Snow, by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Another classic, Caldecott Medal winner here, this one from 1948.
“The postman said it looked like snow. The farmer said it smelled like snow. The policeman said it felt like snow, and his wife said her big toe hurt, and that always meant snow.”
Welcome to 1948, complete with farmer in plaid wool jacket, vintage automobiles looking like “big fat raisins buried in snowdrifts,” and the policeman’s wife applying a mustard plaster to his chest to ward off a cold when he gets his feet wet! Fantastic.
The story in this book simply tells of a great big snowfall which starts quite innocently, just a few flakes in the air, and continues until the town is quite blanketed with snow. We follow the postman, the policeman (and his wife!), the farmer, the children in town, and a few rabbits, through the snowy days, and on into spring, when all the snow melts and a robin returns. This is a slow-paced, non-techno, world. The farmer reaches for a shovel, the policeman’s wife sits by his bedside knitting while she nurses his cold, and all the neighborhood kids turn out to play in the snow together.
Duvoisin’s vintage illustrations are both simple and bold. The snow flurries and the white-blanketed town are a snow-lover’s dream. Tresselt’s text also evokes a pleasure in the “great white blossoms” filling the cold trees and the ice-fern pictures on the window panes. Classic Americana.
Winter Story, story and illustrations by Jill Barklem
This is part of the Brambly Hedge series, much more popular in the UK than the U.S. We have really enjoyed this world, created by Barklem, and the many stories of the little mice who live there. Barklem researched natural history for years before beginning to write these stories, and her detailed illustrations and descriptions of this wooded world are exceptional.
In Winter Story, all the mice in the hedgerow wake up to find a winter wonderland — drifts and fields and tree-fuls of snow. Therefore, they set about to hold a Snow Ball in the Ice Hall. How exciting! The Ice Hall is constructed by hollowing out a large snowdrift, and magnificently fitting it out with ice columns and balconies, icicle-studded ceiling, snowy staircases and a polished dance floor.
Meanwhile, the kitchens of Brambly Hedge have been humming, with delicious treats galore being cooked and baked and brewed and roasted in preparation for the gala. Finally, the Snow Ball begins, and all the mice gather, decked out in grand ball gowns, and trousers and jackets, to dance to the violin, and eat, and drink, until dawn. And then…it’s off to their cozy beds to sleep and dream.
Enchanting and incredibly detailed pictures capture our attention while Barklem spins out this charming story of Clover and Wilfred, Catkin and Teasel and all the other plucky, creative mice of Brambly Hedge. A long enough story that toddlers won’t sit still for it, this series is best for ages 5 and up. This particular episode probably appeals more to girls than boys.
What a delightful bunch of stories! The Brambly Hedge stories pull my kids right in, and they are endlessly fascinated by the detailed illustrations even when I can’t keep reading the next story (we have the treasury). Do you know of other illustrators who have a similar style?
Yes, there isn’t anyone quite like Jill Barklem for creating those charming worlds of tiny animals! You might look for books illustrated by Helen Craig, even Tasha Tudor (Corgiville Fair), the Ahlbergs (Allan or Jessica) that have a somewhat similar sense of detail and cheer.
[…] his retro illustration work that gives a highly- reminiscent nod to Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy and the Big Snow. What’s not to like?! A sure fire hit for ages 3 and […]
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