cover image Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming

Tony Johnston, illus. by Jim LaMarche. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7251-8

A dark-haired girl sits alone in the woods, observing the behavior of animals from a platform up in a tree. Each animal that ventures into the clearing is getting ready for winter’s cold. Though the foliage glows, food is becoming harder to find: “The mother bear snuffles for food among the flaming leaves. The cub snuffles too. But no luck.... Winter is coming.” The girl’s narration makes it clear that her family possesses a store of knowledge about the natural world. About skunks, she says, “I can smell them before I see them. Not a bad smell; a real smell. My father says animals are true to themselves.” In one of several spreads meticulously worked with feather-light strokes, LaMarche (A Single Pearl) looks down on both the skunks and the girl on her platform, doubling the sense of secret observation. Sketches of the skunks lie beside her. With meditative language, Johnston (The Cat with Seven Names) offers a vivid sense of the changing seasons and of stillness. LaMarche quietly and sensitively portrays a child who’s comfortable spending hours alone, working on her own projects and observing—a young naturalist. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)