cover image The Snow Blew Inn

The Snow Blew Inn

Dian Curtis Regan, illus. by Doug Cushman. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2351-4

Emma is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her cousin Abby for a sleepover. But Emma and her mother also run the eponymous inn, which becomes a refuge for a passel of weary travelers when a blizzard hits. What if Abby and her mother arrive and there's no room at the inn? This isn't a nail-biter by any stretch%E2%80%94for starters, most kids will agree that much of the fun of a sleepover comes from camping out on the floor. Yet Regan and Cushman, the team behind Monster Baby (Clarion, 2009), pull readers into the story with strong atmospherics. With simple prose and crisp but warm watercolors, they conjure up the ever accumulating snow and guests%E2%80%94an array of anthropomorphized animals, dressed in vivid Victorian garb%E2%80%94and a palpable spirit of hospitality that turns a shelter into an arklike community brimming with Dickensian bonhomie and gratitude. Emma, too, becomes more impressive as the pages turn: while she never totally submerges her own interests or anxieties (it would have been unrealistic had she done so), she's every bit her mother's lieutenant, ably making the guests comfortable and cozy. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)