There are two parts to autumn.
The first is that golden haze entering in September, when the air becomes crisper, leaves paint riotous beauty across the landscape, cozy sweaters feel just right for a crunchy walk through the woods.
But here we are in November and it’s still, technically, Fall. However, there are flurries of snow in the air. Trees etch graceful, barren silhouettes against milky-gray skies, and that nip in the air requires a few added layers.
Today, I’ve got some books that do justice to that smooshed-together, fallish/winterish time of year. Read them with some hot cocoa to welcome Nature’s transitions.
Hush, Hush Forest, written by Mary Casanova, woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski
published in 2018 by University of Minnesota Press
Nick Wroblewski is one of my favorite Midwest artists. He works in Duluth, carving and printing stunning woodblock prints. You can find out more about his art here.
This is his second collaboration with Minnesota-author Mary Casanova, a gorgeous, lyrical glimpse of the woodland’s long goodbye to the bustle of summer and steady preparation for a long, cold winter.
The simplicity of the text honors the quietude of this season and allows the artwork to speak its volumes. Share it with children as young as 2, but please note — it would make a handsome gift for any Minnesotan or True Northerner of all ages.
The Artists, written and illustrated by Carles Porta
published in 2018 by Flying Eye Books
If you like the Moomins, this new series by Carles Porta will feel a bit like meeting some cousins!
A gaggle of quirky characters living in Hidden Valley are preparing for winter. As fragments of leafy color whirl through the air, Ticky prepares a song to bid adieu to summer, Yula loses track of time painting a heartfelt farewell, Sara pums on her drum on an exploratory traipse through the forest, and one onion-headed-ballerina splatters color in wild abandon.
The observations of these unusual persons, their foibles, fears, mistakes, and serendipitous discoveries, add up to a oddly delightful adventure of friendship. And the artwork is irresistible! I’ll have the next volume of these Tales from the Hidden Valley in a fully-winter post, coming soon. Enjoy this fantasy with ages 5 and up.
Waiting for Winter, written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
first published in Germany; first American edition 2009 by Kane Miller
No one brings us such immensely lovable, frowsy creatures as German artist Sebastian Meschenmoser.
This is the story of an eager squirrel who is anticipating with every fiber of his being his very first snowfall. It is aggravatingly slow in coming, requiring all manner of distractions to endure the wait. Squirrel is joined by other waiters, while simultaneously annoying the heck out of others…
…until finally those magical first snowflakes arrive. This funny, happy account will put a smile on the faces of everyone ages 4 and up.
A Home in the Barn, written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
published in 2018 by Harper Collins
A number of texts written by the author of Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, who died in 1952 at such a young age, have been revived and published in the past few years.
This one is filled with the glory of Jerry Pinkney’s genial, radiant, captivating artwork. Every page is a splendor.
Beginning with the golden glow of autumn, the animals gather one by one into the sheltering barn. Gradually snow flurries begin, until by our story’s end, the farmscape is blanketed with quiet drifts of snow. There’s such a mellow, homely feel to this old-fashioned story of rural beauty, perfect for ages 2 and up.
The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits, written by Ulf Stark, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
first published in Sweden, 2012; First English edition 2014 by Floris Books
Finally, this heads up for all you Scandinavians!
This spritely, charming import from the land of Tomtes and pepparkakor serves as an Advent calendar of sorts. It’s arranged in 25 tiny chapters to be read one-a-day as you count down the days until Christmas.
Follow the funny, jolly adventures of Grump the tomte and a burrow of busy rabbits as they prepare for winter, celebrate St. Lucia’s Day, welcome a snowfall, and attempt to bring about a happy Christmas for all.
With copious, charming illustrations by the one and only Eva Eriksson, I think a dose of this at each December bedtime would be an especially sweet addition to your seasonal festivities. Ages 4 and up. Order one now so you’ve got it in time!