Kirk (Snow Family
) combines the stories of Frosty the Snowman and the Gingerbread Man, minus the somber endings, in this light, bright tale of a speedy Snow Dude. Two children build the boyish Dude and wish he could come to life. They do not notice the smiling, windswept cloud towering behind them: "There's a little mischief/ in the chilly air today!
" it says. As the children give their creation coal-black eyes and a carrot nose, he animates and takes off through the neighborhood. A couple calls, "Be our little boy!," and a baker begs, "Help me cool my pies!," but he repeats, "I'm a snow dude,/ As wild as wild can be./ Run as fast as you can run—/ you won't catch up with me!" Kirk adds humorous visual touches as a gathering crowd pursues the Dude. At the bakery, gingerbread men (later chased by a fox) and a wedding cake's plastic couple join the action; when the Dude snowboards down a hill, he's followed by townspeople, sledders, and penguins and polar bears sprung from the zoo. At a thinly iced lake, tragedy seems in the offing, but the Dude's original builders yell to the assembled group, "Build snow dudes of your own!" The horizontal closing spread offers a wide-angle view of a park where all manner of snow folks frolic with the warm-blooded variety. Kirk approaches the short-lived snowy day with good cheer and doesn't spoil the mood with premature melting. Ages 3-8. (Nov.)