Monday, February 13, 2017

Five Favorite Winter Reads

A few months ago I promised another winter books post, since I just had too many favorites that I wished I could share on my Christmas books post! All of these are listed on my favorite books pages, but you know, some are more favorite than others. ;-)

First off is The Tomten, by Astrid Lindgren (pictured above). This is an absolutely enchanting story about an old tomten (a tiny little gnome-like creature), who has "seen the snow of many, many winters" and lives on a farm deep in the woods. He goes around at night when the people are asleep and talks to the farm animals in his tomten language as he gives them their food and reminds them that "winters come and winters go, summers come and summers go, but soon the swallows will be here." The language in this story is just as beautiful as the illustrations. 

Next up is Jane Yolen's Caldecott-winning Owl Moon--this is one of my very favorite books ever ever ever. Again, absolutely beautiful illustrations and incredibly poetic language describes a little girl's first midnight trip to the woods with her father to go look for owls. The majesty of the snow-bright woods, the dark shadows under the trees, and the quiet reverence she feels staring into the eyes of a great horned owl are all so beautifully described: "when you go owling, you don't need words, or warm, or anything but hope--the kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining owl moon."  

Daniel San Souci's North Country Night is another beautifully illustrated (are we sensing a theme here?!) book that describes the animals' night as they move through the snowy northern woods. Each page flows into the next so that the readers understand how the animals interact with one another--the porcupine in one page passes by the cottontail rabbit without incident, but on the next page the rabbit backtracks into the woodland to avoid a hungry bobcat, and on the following page a beaver has caught the scent of the bobcat and swims into his lodge, whereas the weasel downstream paddles against the current to take shelter in a patch of brush. My kids absolutely adore this one; it's the next best thing to taking a quiet moonlit walk through the woods. (Plus you can buy it for a penny on Amazon!)

Another lovely Caldecott winner, The Big Snow details the preparations that each animal takes as it prepares for winter. The wild geese fly south, the cottontail rabbits nibble tasty carrot tops in the garden, the squirrels store their nuts and seeds--but what will all the woodland animals and birds do when there is so much snow that it covers their food stores?

This story by Jan Brett is such a fun twist on the traditional Gingerbread Man story--the bold and brash Gingerbread Baby still gets up to plenty of adventures, but his ride atop the fox does not end in his consumption! Instead, Matty, the boy who originally baked the Gingerbread Baby, saves the day by cleverly baking a beautiful gingerbread house in which the tired-out little Gingerbread Baby dwells happily ever after. The illustrations are a delight with tons of little hidden gems (Matty's progress with the gingerbread house is shown in the sidebars on each page) and the very end features a lift-the-flap gingerbread house for eager little toddler fingers who will be delighted to find the happy Gingerbread Baby. Each of my kids has gone through a stage where they want to read this one every single day!

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