Friday, December 01, 2006


Snow day today!!! That's right, school was cancelled. Thousands of children were jumping up and down, yanking on snowpants and ransacking closets in search of sleds...meanwhile, hundreds of teachers were readjusting their teddy bears in the crooks of their arms and hunkering down for another couple of hours of sleep as the white fluff collected higher and higher in the corners of the windows. Honestly, a snow day is indescribable bliss, nature's mental health day, and one of the greatest occupational perks ever known to man or woman. Reason enough to go into teaching...though I must say, the kids are pretty fun, too!

The sounds and sights of this blizzard brought immediately to mind one of my favorite seasonal titles:

WHEN IT STARTS TO SNOW by Phillis Gershator, illustrated by Martin Matje (Holt)
"What if it starts to snow? What do you do? Where do you go?" Gentle, lilting verse takes us through the woodland animal kingdom, from the predictable hibernating bear, migrating goose, seed-searching sparrow and playful otter ("I go with the flow when it starts to snow"), to the more unusual frogs, worms cats and stoats. And where does a child go when it starts to snow? Look out the window, or in the pages of this book, to find out. A subtle scientific intro to hibernation and animal habitats with a lovely search-and-find double page spread, it also serves as a flawless seasonal read-aloud. The cartoonish illustrations are cheerful and sweet, and applies a pastel palette evocative of that perfect time in a winter evening where everything turns blue and gray. (4 and up)

Also of interest:
ALL YOU NEED FOR A SNOWMAN by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Barnara Lavalee Crisp, stylized illustrations (by the same artist who did the arctic tale MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME?) depict step-by-step the process of building a well-dressed snowman with a bevvy of friends. This spirit of community climaxes in a delightful surprise conclusion. Oversize illustrations require the reader to tilt the book vertically at one point to fully appreciate the grandeur. (4 and up)

NAMES FOR SNOW by Judi Beach, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski (Hyperion) The Inuits have more than fifty names for snow, which inspired the author to come up with fourteen of her own. How many can your children come up with? A little mouse living on the farm has the many kinds of snow defined for him by a loving mother. Silver-blue frames add to the wintry feel, and the delicate paintings of landscapes are charming and evocative in turn. A book as satisfying as a cup of cocoa that truly captures the spirit of winter, with it's chill on the outside and warmth on the inside. (4 and up)

HOW TO SURVIVE IN ANTARCTICA by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Holiday House) Part memoir, part survival tips, part fun facts, all adventure, this nonfiction guide is very handy in case you fall into a crevass, need to build your own igloo, have trouble differentiating a weddell seal from a leopard seal, or want to see an arctic animal mummy. Fans of adventure survival guy Gary Paulsen will love this book. And do you know whether or not there are polar bears at the South Pole? Then you need this book, too. (8 and up)

THE BIGGEST, BEST SNOWMAN by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (Scholastic) The little girl's sisters thought she couldn't do it, but she showed them! The spirit of a primary child's can-do attitude is bigger than life in this beautiful book. (5 and up) (Gosh, how long did they keep this title in print in hardcover? Two minutes? Por favor, publishing people, howzabout letting a book build up a head of steam?)

THERE WAS A COLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED SOME SNOW! by Lucille Colandro, illustrated by Jared Lee (Scholastic)
"There was a cold lady who swallowed a scarf. She tried not to barf." Admit it, you know a kid that would love this irreverent parody of that infamous little old lady who swallowed a fly (I'd take snow, wouldn't you?), matched with appropriately manic art. Thanks to Wonderland Books in Rockford, Illinois for sharing this title with friends at PlanetEsme! Nobody recommends books with kid-appeal like an independent bookseller! (6 and up)

And I know you won't forget about Calecott winner SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian (Houghton Mifflin), one of the best children's books ever, about the first scientist to capture a snowflake on photographic film (All ages), and Amy Timberlake's Newbery-contending novel THAT GIRL LUCY MOON (Hyperion), in which a pre-teen does worthy battle with a curmudgeon for rights to a sledding hill. (10 and up)

Hope these choices keep you warm if you happen to get snowed in...

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

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