cover image The Snow Lambs

The Snow Lambs

Debi Gliori. Scholastic, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-20304-3

One snowy night, while redheaded Sam and his father are counting their flock, Bess the sheepdog disappears to search for a pregnant ewe. Bess finds her, but Sam worries about Bess out in the storm: will she ever find her way home? The pair returns in time for the ewe to give birth to snow lambs: ""And later, when the wind had dropped from a howl to a whisper, the kitchen filled with newborn bleating."" Throughout this suspenseful and ultimately reassuring book, Gliori (My Little Brother) ingeniously uses a ""split screen"" effect to contrast Sam's warmth and safety at home with the perilous trek of the intrepid dog and trusting ewe. A single spread, for example, shows two frames: on the right Sam's mother blow-dries his hair in a golden-hued interior, while on the left, Bess and the ewe struggle against an icy wind in a gray landscape; in another, Sam digs under a comforter for his pajamas as Bess digs through the snow so the sheep can fit under a fence. Gliori's densely textured, cheerfully cartoony illustrations skillfully use the effects of light to convey sensation and emotion: they evoke the bitterness of the cold and the anxieties lurking in the deep shadows (indoors and out). The combination of unflappable, protective dog, loyal child (who keeps waiting even after his unconcerned parents go to bed) and cute sheep is a winner. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)