cover image Oh!


Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, $16.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17053-0

In this tender treatment by Henkes (Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse) and Dronzek, Henkes's wife, a painter making her children's book debut, ""Oh!"" becomes a universal expression of friskiness elicited by the first blanket of snow. When morning arrives and ""everything is white,"" the squirrel wants to ""skitter, skitter, skitter,"" the rabbit wants to frolic (the illustration shows it has chased the squirrel from the previous page up a tree). Two children, hoods up and backs to the viewer, jump into snowdrifts and dashing red cardinals swoop in and out of the snowflakes. ""OH!"" writes Henkes after accounting for all the landscape's gleeful inhabitants, and Dronzek heightens the moment by switching from neatly framed compositions to a full-bleed, double-page spread of all the characters at play. But all snowy days must come to an end: ""The sky turns dark. The snow turns blue,"" and everyone heads for his or her respective home, with promises of more snow-play tomorrow. Extending himself to a younger audience than in his previous works, Henkes keeps his prose succinct and unadorned, seasoning it with repetition and an easy cadence: ""The cat wants to play. Sneak, sneak, sneak, brave young cat."" Dronzek's acrylic renderings swiftly evoke how snow both sharpens and softens the world. The whitened landscape throws every other color in her palette into sharp relief, while her pastel-like textures look positively downy. Ages 2-up. (Oct.)