baby, it’s cold outside…five bracing books for frosty days

this place in the snow cover image This Place in the Snow, written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond

In the cold, blue night, while everyone is sleeping snug in their beds, millions of silent snowflakes swirl out of the sky, piling into an ethereal layer of soft, vanilla cream.  Ahhhh.  Lovely.

By morning, there are great, high drifts.  And look!  Here comes the snowplow to pile it even higher! Whoopee!  The shout goes up, and everyone races about in a mad scramble to get snow gear on, to pour out into the gleaming whiteness, to wade through knee-deep snow to the top of the grand mound raised by the plow!

And now begins the marvelous fun of crafting that mound into a fantastic this place in the snow illustration rebecca bondplayground — scooping and hollowing, hefting and smoothing, pushing and packing until a snowy land of tunnels and walkways, turrets and snowcaves, arches and spirals, appears.

I adore Rebecca Bond’s story of a neighborhood of kids deliriously happy in the snow.  Her descriptive language wells up from a deep affinity for snowy landscapes; her delight sparkles in every rhythmic phrase.  Her illustrations, likewise, are a snow-lover’s dream.  The chilly-purpleblue of shadows on snow, the vast whiteness, the pillowy softness of every object on earth, the watery sunlight at the height of the day, and all the merry, bundled children out playing in it a long, long time.  Beginning and ending with the nighttime hush is perfect for the short winter days and early nightfalls.

A truly joyful story!

the iciest diciest scariest sled ride ever cover imageThe Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! by Rebecca Rule, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes

Come on over and listen to a whopper of a tale about seven kids, one extra-long double-runner sled, and a ginormous hill called Old Mountain Road.  A hill so steep, you can rocket off the ridge, swoosh down the hill, and careen past every landmark in the village, all in the time it takes for the bell to toll the noon hour.

A hill that steep PLUS a brand new, heavy crust of ice lying atop the snow.  A crust so slick, you can’t even steer  a sled.  Put all those ingredients together and you have got one gollywhopper of a sled ride, full of terrific speed, laughing, and screaming, and ending with seven kids who just want one thing — to do it again!

Rebecca Rule is a New Hampshire storyteller, and this story reads like athe iciest diciest scariest sled ride ever illustration jennifer thermes delightful yarn, the kind that grows in size over the generations.  All of us who have grown up sledding can readily relate to the enticement of a long, steep hill, the struggles of climbing up it, and the out-of-control brilliance of speeding down.  An End Note tells about the uncommonly long travis sleds, as they were called in that neck of the woods, and in particular a beauty belonging to a fellow named Hervey Pearl.

Jennifer Thermes’ watercolor illustrations burst with lively energy and happy independence amid the quaint New England setting.  Snowy hillsides are dotted with farm houses and white church spires, and seven plucky kids beam despite their many tumbles and upsets.  Another really happy story.

here comes jack frost cover imageHere Comes Jack Frost, written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara

This little boy is a bit down-in-the-mouth; his home deep in the woods is a bit lonely this time of year with so many animal friends tucked in their dens and hidey-holes.

One morning, though, intricate frost patterns appear on his window which gladden him, and when he runs outside, who should be there but Jack Frost himself!  A spiky, twinkle-toes fellow, all dressed in white, who dashes off taunting him with “You can’t catch me!”  Chasing him across here comes jack frost illustration kazuno koharafrozen ponds and down snowy hills, the boy does indeed catch him, so Jack promises to join him in all sorts of winter sport, as long as the boy doesn’t mention one thing:  warmth.  An ominous word for Jack Frost.

The two of them have such fun all winter long, until one day, the little boy exclaims over something he spots in the woods.  It’s a snowdrop, harbinger of spring.  With that, Jack Frost wafts away; he’ll be back next winter, but now, it’s time for spring.

This simple, magical story is accompanied by enchanting block prints that begin in dull grays and browns, then catapult into striking blues and white when Jack Frost arrives on the scene.  The sparkle of snowflakes and the frozen pleasures of  ice and snow seem almost to glint on the page, while the long, graceful lines of bare trees and snow-softened hillsides simultaneously create a winter hush.  It’s a really beautiful book, and a fanciful, sweet story to share with children as young as 2 or 3.

a perfect day cover imageA Perfect Day, written and illustrated by Carin Berger

Snow upon snow upon snow.  For these friends, that’s what makes a perfect day.

When the landscape is covered in deep drifts of snow, there are so many wonderful things to do.  Making tracks in an unmarked world, skiing, snowballing, building snow creatures large and small, sledding and skating, even opening a jolly iciclea perfect day illustration carin berger stand!  All the long day, there is snow fun to be had, until the stars twinkle out and the street lamps shed their soft glow over the snowy paths leading to snug homes and steamy mugs of cocoa.

Well.  I’d call that a perfect day, too!

Carin Berger has created a world full of delightful outdoor activity, a neighborhood full of children at play, without a whisper of frenzy. This is a landscape of open spaces, where each of these children is nicely small in the expanse of snow.  So much air to breathe, so much shooshing and gliding and creating to be done, yet an overall sense of serenity.  I love that.

Her illustrations are brilliant cut-paper collages, with curlicues of handwriting ghosting across the hillsides, and darling patterns cropping up on umbrellas and skirts.  The overall scheme is of white snow and robin’s egg blue sky peppered with jolly reds and oranges and navy blues of the children.   A nice, cozy bedtime read.

winter is the warmest season cover imageWinter is the Warmest Season, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

Here’s a stumper:  How is winter the warmest of all the seasons?  And not because that’s when you board a jet for the Bahamas.  The warmest season smack dab in Minnesota, when the thermometer is registering 20 degrees below zero and the wind chill whips that right down into nose-numbing frostiness.  How is that the warmest season, hm?

Here are a few hints:  Lightweight windbreakers are exchanged for puffy down jackets.  Puny sun visors that just skim the top of your head are put away in favor of fuzzy knit hats with deliciously-warm flaps extending down over the tips of your pert ears.  Ice cold milk is replaced by rich, steamy, hot cocoa.  Mmmmmm.

Lauren Stringer’s book is oh-my-fabulous as she very cleverly muses about all the cozy, wooly, glowing elements of wintertime in the north.  Truly, that’s the juxtaposition that endears many of us to winters here, isn’t it?  The sheer, breathtaking beauty of snow and ice, glittering outdoors, blizzarding forth fresh playtimes of sledding and skiing, skating and igloo-building.  And then — the soothing warmth to greet us indoors, fireplaces to gather round, kettles of hot soup, cozy knit socks.  That’s what makes this the quintessential winter-lover’s book.

winter is the warmest season illustration lauren stringer

Stringer’s acrylic illustrations envelop us in warmth and joy as well.  Nothing delicate and twinkly here.  Instead there’s heaps of rich color that radiate warmth, curving lines that comfort, generous proportions that fill us up with all that happy goodness.

I absolutely love this book, and am so very proud to say Lauren is from Minneapolis!

Here are Amazon links for all these thumbs-up-for-winter books!
This Place in the Snow
The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever!
Here Comes Jack Frost
A Perfect Day
Winter Is the Warmest Season