cover image Snowballs


Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200074-5

Only an artist as gifted as Ehlert (Nuts to You!) could take so well-worn a topic as building a snowman and make it as fresh as-well, new-fallen snow. Her faultless sense of design immediately engages the reader: tidy white circles dot the gray backgrounds of her collages; cut-paper birds show off their hand-painted wings; and an offscreen narrator exhibits a sackful of ``good stuff''-birdseed, peanuts, corn kernels, etc.-accumulated in anticipation of the ``perfect snowball day.'' Soon the narrator and invisible colleagues have constructed a whole family of snow people and their pets. Each member of the snow family receives a full spread, to be viewed vertically, and each is decorated with ``good stuff.'' Birds (and squirrels) can feast upon some of the adornments; and bright textiles (a Bolivian hat, a Guatemalan purse) imaginatively intermingle with stones, twigs and such prosaic items as a luggage tag and a claim check. Factual information about snow is included as well as a spread featuring photos of 13 snow creations. Even jacket space is not wasted-the flap has a recipe for popcorn balls, while the back cover features a selection of snowy newspaper forecasts. A joyful and inventive book just brimming with its own ``good stuff.'' Ages 3-8. (Oct.)