cover image When It Starts to Snow

When It Starts to Snow

Phillis Gershator. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5404-0

In this engaging picture book about the chain of events set in motion by a snowfall, a cluster of animals respond in rhyme to a boy's question: ""What if it starts to snow? What do you do? Where do you go?"" Gershator (Bread Is for Eating) writes with a simple, lilting eloquence, using the book's title as an incantatory closing refrain to each creature's response: "" `The water is chilly,' says the fish./ `It's best to lie low.'/ Swish, shh, shh/ when it starts to snow."" Once every animal has retreated to its proper refuge, a wordless spread of the boy peering out from among a stand of trees at a blanket of white mimics the silence that falls along with the snow. In the final pages, the boy emerges from his comfy bedroom to play (""Hip hip hurray!""). French artist Matje inventively renders the winter sky in the color of hot chocolate tinted with whipped cream, a perfect evocation of both the coziness and chill of a snowy day. This striking visual element provides the backdrop for his boldly graphic characterizations: a crow is formed on a simple S-curve, a rooster and hen have the proportions of giant parade balloons and everyone, even the hulking bear, has tiny, bright eyes that peer out at the audience in comic wonder. With words that roll off the tongue, pictures of charming woodland inhabitants and a dash of science, this one will have readers raring to go on a snow quest of their own. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)