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Hiro’s Hats

Elisa Kleven. Wild Swans Publishing Cooperative, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-7333043-0-6

In this gently whimsical yarn, an imaginative little snow monkey named Hiro sees “a hat one day, flying like a bright bird through the sky.” The cheery red and yellow hat becomes a plaything and something more—“It is my friend and a hat.” Hiro’s siblings tease him—“That’s not a friend, it’s a hat”—but a kindly robin offers friendly support. When a winter wind blows Hiro’s hat and the robin’s nest away, they find a silly, cozy way to solve both of their dilemmas when the robin snuggles on Hiro’s head, creating a new and even more unconventional hat. The story twines toward happy endings for all, including the lost garment. Mixed-media collage illustrations show sweet-faced, woolly-bodied monkeys at play in richly textural landscapes. Through Hiro, Kleven sympathetically illustrates young children’s ability to find emotional connections to inanimate objects, and the creative ways they can respond to stress. Ages 3–8. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story

Sean Taylor and Alex Morss, illus. by Cinyee Chiu. Words & Pictures, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7112-4284-5

Scientific exploration unspools inside a story that begins with a boy’s summer visit to his Granny Sylvie, who “knows lots of things.” Depicted as active, aged, and round-bodied, with a lighter skin tone than her grandchild, she takes him to a secret glade buzzing with biodiversity. When they repeat their adventure in winter, the “the glade was quiet and bare.” The child’s complaint that “nothing’s alive” is met by Granny Sylvie’s wisdom, and as they talk, she describes the different animals and insects sheltering through the winter months (“the queen bumblebee sleeps in a tiny tunnel”). The first part of the book closes with the boy drifting off to his own winter sleep; a second section offers a more comprehensive explanation of hibernation and the specific behaviors of various animals. Chiu’s richly layered illustrations move from sunlit greens to frosty blues, cleverly using perspective to convey the boy’s curiosity alongside depictions of creatures and their habitats. Effective and engaging. Ages 5–7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Snow for Everyone

Antonie Schneider, illus. by Pei-Yu Chang. NorthSouth, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4320-2

“When it snows in Jerusalem, the camels are surprised” begins Schneider’s parable of three children in that city. Mira, Rafi, and Samir play together, but their game reflects their world: “ ‘This is the border,’ says Mira, using a stick to draw a line in the snow.” As the snow begins to melt, they argue over who it belongs to: “The children look at the snow in their hands. They can’t see any difference, but surely there must be a difference.” Each takes some snow to their spiritual leader—a priest, a rabbi, and an imam—who all note its similarity to divinity: “ ‘The snow is a mystery’... ‘If you try to grasp the mystery... you lose it.’ ” Then it snows again: “And there is enough snow for everyone.” Chang’s distinctive illustration style mixes creamy texture, collaged elements, and expressive faces to depict the layered complexities of the children’s homeland. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Snow Much Fun!

Nancy Siscoe, illus. by Sabina Gibson. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-274112-7

Two furry friends try to overcome a third’s reluctance to play outside in this twee tale of a snow day. After “moving a little bit slow,” snow-averse rabbit Willow tries out sledding, skating, skiing, and making “snow bears and snow hares” with the encouragement of Berry the bear and Ginger the fox before revealing a latent passion for ice hockey. The rhyming text is studded with snow puns—“SNOW WAY!”—and the illustrations show cozy indoor periods alongside the trio’s outdoor adventures. Gibson’s photographs of her soft-sculpture creations, posed in a charmingly appointed miniature pastel-hued world of cotton-ball snow bears, bitsy felt accessories, and handmade furniture, will captivate those with a yen for the teeny tiny. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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My Winter City

James Gladstone, illus. by Gary Clement. Groundwood, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77306-010-1

Lyrical language and detailed watercolors capture a child’s first-person observations on a snowy city outing. Framed with the repeated phrase “my winter city,” the text mixes sharply observed sights, sounds, and feelings to evoke place specifics: “My winter city is a soup of salty slushes, full of sliding buses/ splashing, spraying, sploshing, soaking walkers on the sidewalk.” Clement’s paintings use twitchy lines and muted colors to bridge moments that Gladstone’s text elides—showing the child on the bus, for example, to illustrate “Water runs fast down the aisle past wet boots and toboggans”—and conveying the singular mix of bustle and stillness that city residents experience on snowy days. It’s a diverting excursion, down to the sled ride home: “My winter city is an afternoon journey/... past rows of locked bicycles, buried and waiting,/ back where we came from... backwards sledding.” Ages 4–7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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When the Snow Is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall

Jean Reidy, illus. by Joey Chou. Holt/Godwin, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-12712-9

Candy-bright digital illustrations with a retro-modern flair by Chou match the exuberance of Reidy’s rhyming snow day story. A curly-headed child, ruddy-faced, is excited to go outside and play: “Winter’s here at last!/ Gobble down my pancakes./ Getting dressed so fast.” Repetition (“Then I roll, roll, roll/ that ball, ball, ball/ and the carrot-nosed man/ grows tall, tall, tall”) and relatable, concrete descriptions (“But my pinkie’s in my mitten/ where my thumb should go/ and my hat flies off/ when the cold winds blow”) drive the action, which centers on the child playing outside, getting too cold, and then cuddling up with their parents. Though the story devolves into greeting-card sentiment (“When my heart’s so big.../ I never feel small”), the rising snow is measured with kid-friendly specificity—“deeper than my toes are tall,” “deeper than my ankles are high,” “deeper than my boots are tall”—that is sure to please. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Some Snow Is...

Ellen Yeomans, illus. by Andrea Offermann. Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-54754-6

Like a frosty incantation, Yeomans uses lyrical cadences to itemize the many types of snow, from the first snow—“We’ve waited for so long snow. Is it really snow snow, or only heavy rain?”—to “all gone snow”—“We’ve waited for so long snow. Please, please, no more snow/... our bikes are whispering.” Incorporating a range of winter pastimes, from making snow angels, throwing snowballs, and sledding to tracking critters, avoiding yellow snow, and staying cozy on a blizzardy day, the text takes its time to chant its way through winter’s span. Much like winter itself, some may find that the story stretches a bit long, though Offermann’s captivating pictures help sustain attention. The richly detailed illustrations combine the crispness of manga-inflected pen-and-ink drawings with the softness of watercolor to show an inclusive cast of children experiencing every sort of snow that Yeomans names. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Luckiest Snowball

Elliot Kreloff. Holiday House, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4105-1

Izzy is just about to throw a snowball when it suddenly pipes up: “WAIT! STOP!... If you throw me—BLAM!— it’s the end of me.” So begins Larry the snowball’s yearlong odyssey. Izzy keeps Larry safe in a freezer populated by a rotating cast of characters—“sherbet, frozen peas, and twelve ice cubes,” then “a pie, dinner rolls, frozen green beans, and a giant turkey”—taking him out once each season. Each of Larry’s adventures—to see spring flowers, visit the beach in a cooler, and jump in fall leaves—ends when he shouts: “HELP! I’m melting!” When winter comes again, Larry says goodbye: “Winter is my home.” Kreloff illustrates this tale with digital collages that evoke the mixed textures of traditional cut-paper assemblages and capture the nuances of snowball personality. Readers may want to make room in their freezers for Larrys of their own. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Two Wool Gloves

Bo Jin, illus. by Li Li. Reycraft, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4788-6880-4

On a stormy winter day, Father Squirrel has to find a new home for his family, but every tree is occupied. Then, he finds a lost woolen glove: “There was just enough room in the glove for Mother Squirrel and the five babies,” but Father Squirrel has to stay outside, “trying to shield himself from the cold.” When the boy who lost the glove turns up, “Father Squirrel felt terrible for having taken the boy’s glove. But his family had needed a place to keep warm.” The boy sees what’s happening, and leaves his other glove to shelter the papa. In depicting the power of an act of kindness toward those that face dire necessity, the tale’s themes transcend the seasons, if the telling itself never quite soars. Li uses texture—sweeps and dustings of white—to conjure a stylized wintry world populated by wide-eyed squirrels seeking shelter. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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One Snowy Morning

Kevin Tseng, illus. by Dana Wulfekotte. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-3041-5

“One snowy morning... two friends found the oddest things stuck in a giant pile of snow.” When a chipmunk and a squirrel come across a snowman in the forest, they are perplexed. What could it be? This charmingly silly tale follows the furry friends as they ponder the snowman’s classic accoutrements, before landing upon their own ingenious way to use these strange objects: a “dragon tooth soup” party featuring a top-hat table, button plates, and carrot soup. After, “they returned almost everything... to about the same place.” Tseng’s minimal, witty text, where a snowman’s coal eyes become “lumpy kickballs” and a scarf becomes “a grand theater curtain,” works with Wulfekotte’s cheery, cheeky illustrations to get the jokes across, and images of round-bodied woodland creatures cheerfully sporting enormous mitten hats and concocting carrot soup (and a glorious mess) will elicit giggles. Ages 3–5. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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