Yes, winter is here. The days are cold and dark. But the warmth of human kindness goes with wintertime, hand in glove, in today’s wonderful stories.
The Branch, written by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Pierre Pratt published in 2016 by Kids Can Press
Wintertime snows and howling winds are terribly exciting. Ice storms coat the world with a shimmer that dazzles in sunlight.
…heavy ice and raucous winds can be scary, too. They break this little girl’s favorite branch off her tree; break her heart also, since she’s lost her lovely perch — a spy base, fairy castle, shelter for all sorts of playtime.
You can’t glue a branch back on a tree, but Mr. Frank, her sturdy, kindhearted, neighbor, has a whip-smart plan for how to help that branch reach it’s full potential!
Watch this dear pair apply a hefty helping of elbow grease to turn misfortune to a windfall. Pratt’s brazen colors make this one dance! His shards of ice, red flannel warmth and tender, intergenerational duo are full of zest. Such a hopeful, happy story, for ages 3 and up.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, written by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books
I am smitten with this book.
And it’s another intergenerational wintertime story! Mrs. Goldman and Sophia have a thing going for one another dating back to Sophia’s birth when dear Mrs. Goldman knitted her a sweet, tiny, hat to keep her wee noggin warm.
Sophia is much, much bigger now. Looks about six years old. She has big responsibilities to match, too, as the official pompom-maker for all of Mrs. Goldman’s hats. That’s a lot of pompoms because Mrs. Goldman is like a knitting warrior, knitting hats for all sorts and sizes of people. It’s her mitzvah, her good deed.
When Mrs. Goldman gives her own hat away to a needy friend, Sophia determines to knit a hat, start-to-finish, for her dear friend. This is not so easy. It takes pluck and creativity to pull off such a marvelous good deed.
Oh my goodness. The end result of Sophia’s loving efforts is enough to gladden the gloomiest of hearts! Karas’s soft, tender illustrations, his chalky, muted colors punctuated by those merry, cranberry-red pompoms, are perfect. Plus, there’s a knitting pattern and pompom directions to make your own Sophia hat! Enjoy this generous, warm story with kids 4 and up.
Leave Me Alone! written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol published in 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
Another knitting story, this time with quite a different vibe!
If you think the old woman living in a shoe had lots of kids, let me introduce you to this old woman, living in a village, utterly beleaguered by her large family.
This quantity of children means she also has a deal of knitting to do so the poor dears will have sweaters to wear for the winter. The kids, however, are preventing her from getting that knitting done. Oh, we feel her pain, don’t we?!
Finally, she’s at the end of her rope. She gathers her necessaries and clops out the door with a hearty, “Leave me alone!” Going to find some peace and quiet. Alas! She encounters more and more interlopers who must be dealt with.
Thank goodness she’s got the moxie to tell them all off, but you cannot believe the ends she must go to in order to get her knitting done!
Every mother of small children ought to read this book. You might laugh…or cry…depending on the day, but you will cheer for her and her mission accomplished, that’s for certain. Bold, rich colors, a bushel-basket of personality, and heaps of humor enliven every page. Read it with kids ages 4 and up.
How to Build a Snow Bear, written by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin published in 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux
The folks who brought us such a fabulous big brother in How to Share with a Bear are back with another episode in the lives of these two nice boys.
In their last go-round, little brother was ticklishly-difficult to avoid. Today, Thomas is building an enormous snow man and needs his little brother’s help. But that little fellow has got the serious drowsies. How do you wake up a snoozing bear?
How do you coax him outdoors for snowman success and wintertime fun? It takes kindness, patience, and big-brother savvy, and Thomas has got that in spades.
I adore the sweet relationship between these two brothers. Such a welcome perspective. Stephanie Graegin’s immensely-warm illustrations match the amiable tone of the narrative wonderfully. A lovely story to share with children ages 2 and up.