cover image Winter Friends

Winter Friends

Mary Quattlebaum, , illus. by Hiroe Nakata. . Doubleday, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-74626-7

I cold-toe creep/ to the window to see/ the covers heaped/ on each bare tree," begins the girl narrator of a series of clever, gentle poems that detail wintertime activities. Nakata's (Got to Dance ) watercolors capture the girl peering out of an apartment window at a rosy dawn and "the world/ in its white nightclothes." The text appeals to all five senses, as the heroine listens to a snowplow "Large and loud ... breaking the hush/ like a clock alarm." Although each poem can stand alone, together they form a simple story about a lost mitten. Quattlebaums's (Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns ) meticulous text and Nakata's bright watercolors are stylish and elegantly concise. The collaborators uniquely reimagine traditional scenes: the girl sees an "Icicle Piano" hanging from a roof and watches her breath form "ghost horse[s]" that gallop away. The heroine's early discovery of a lost blue mitten gives the narrative dramatic force, and when she searches out its owner ("His shyly waving/ hand is bare"), she makes a new friend. By book's end, all the people the children have met gather in the girl's apartment for an impromptu cocoa party. In addition to capturing the feel of winter from a child's point of view, the book quietly celebrates citydwellers sharing warmth on a cold day. As the ending poem suggests, the city in winter is a place where the wind can whisper "a thousand tiny promises." Ages 2-5. (Oct.)