cover image First Snow

First Snow

Peter McCarty. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-218996-7

Pedro makes a winter visit to his cousins, Sancho, Bella, Lola, Ava, and Maria. He’s never seen snow before. “I don’t think I will like it,” Pedro says. Neighbors come to play; when one girl, Abby, tells Pedro about snowflakes (“You can even catch them on your tongue. It tastes good!”), Pedro is unimpressed. “It tastes cold,” he says. McCarty’s characteristic, ever-so-delicate shading gives the faces of his roly-poly creatures substance and softness. He paints their snowsuits and hats as flat shapes in candy-store colors, making the characters look like deliciously dressed-up paper dolls. Pedro’s cousins and their friends leap and cavort like a Broadway ensemble, and their energy gives the story its visual excitement—and a bubbly contrast to Pedro’s pessimism. When sledding is suggested, Pedro asks, “Why do you go up?” “To go back down,” says Henry, who fans will recognize from Henry in Love. Fortunately, Pedro’s first sled ride makes him a believer. McCarty deftly spins the story toward its inevitable conclusion, and his sly, Dick-and-Jane prose (“It is cold,” Pedro keeps saying) makes this a rewarding readaloud. Ages 4–8. Agency: Gotham Group. (Dec.)