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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Category results for 'winter'.

 

 
For New Englanders like us, winter means lots and lots of snow and cold temperatures. Fortunately, many fun and lovely picture books are set in this season, and here are some of my favorites (in no particular order).
 
 

The Mitten was my introduction to Jan Brett. I love all of her warm, detailed illustrations. In this story (which relies on a bit of imagination), a mitten is lost and one animal after another decides it would be a nice place to get warm -- even a large bear! We have this in board book form, and both kids enjoy it.

 

How could I not include The Snowy Day? This classic by Ezra Jack Keats won the Caldecott Medal in 1963, and continues to capture the joy of discovery in a landscape of newly fallen snow. As fun as Peter's explorations are, I can totally relate to the part where he sits in the tub afterwards and thinks about his adventures. Peter is a curious, thoughtful child, and I love how after his experiences on the first day, he decides to go out again -- this time sharing it with a friend.

 

Katy and the Big Snow is my favorite of Virginia Lee Burton's picture books. Not just because I live in a land of much snow and plow trucks become ubiquitous round about December, but also because it seems most books about big machinery and "hard work" tend to feature male characters, and so it's wonderful to see an exception. Katy just goes and goes... she has a no-nonsense "get it done" attitude and many New Englanders can relate to the need for that during the winter.

 

For a look at what animals do during the winter, Over and Under the Snow (by Kate Messner) features a parent and child skiing through the woods as the framing for introducing young readers to the "secret kingdom under the snow." See my full review here.

 

Shelter is a beautifully illustratred story of woodland animals preparing for a winter storm (originally written in French by Celine Claire). When strangers come through their neighborhood asking for shelter, will they receive compassion, or not? See my full review here.

 

 

 

Anyone who's lived in New England for more than a few years will be able to tell you about "that" storm. It may not be the same one for everyone, depending on which state or region they're in and how long they've lived there, but of all our storm stories, we'll all have one that stands out from the rest. Mine is The Ice Storm of '98, when we lost power for a week and had to go live with my grandparents because they had a woodstove. 

For John Rocco, who grew up in Rhode Island, "that" storm was "the infamous blizzard of '78" which dropped forty inches of snow on parts of New England, complete with wind speeds of fifty miles per hour. 

Blizzard focuses on his experience as a young boy during this storm that left his family snowbound for a week before plows could get to them. We can sense his childlike excitement and curiosity at this new phenomenon, as he attempts to sled in snow nearly over his head, and later sits by the fire reading "Arctic Survival."

When the family begins to get stir crazy, and worse, runs out of milk to make hot cocoa with, young John comes to the rescue with a pair of tennis rackets for snow shoes to bravely traverse the way to the store. 

This is a book that New-England-raised children can certainly appreciate, and highlights that sense of ingenuity that many of us in the "frozen north" have had to tap into as a matter of survival!

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author/illustrator: John Rocco
Pages: 40
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

Extra Yarn is an interesting, imaginative tale about how a small town with a lot of soot is transformed when a girl named Annabelle finds a box of extra yarn, which she uses to knit sweaters for everyone and everything she can. The story appears to be set simultaneously in the 1950s (there's a pickup truck) and 1500s (there's an evil archduke and a castle), but I guess that's part of its charm.

I love the illustrations and the way the drab monochromatic tones are gradually lightened up as the colors of the yarn spread. If you've read I Want My Hat Back, the bear shown briefly in this story will probably look familiar, as this is the same artist.

Sometimes I don't like it when stories don't "explain everything" at the end, but I think it's fitting here -- is it a story about magic? or not? I guess you'll have to read it and decide for yourself.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 40
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

Shelter is a gentle fable (originally published in French) that contains beautiful and absorbing artwork, full of earth tones and winter blues. In a forest neighborhood, a storm is coming. The animals get ready, but when a pair of strangers show up asking for shelter from the cold, they receive very mixed reactions -- but as the storm worsens, one family finds themselves needing shelter too. 

Different people will probably take different messages from this story (some reviewers see a possible "climate change" statement here since the visitors are polar bears), but for me the takeaway is that the best way to receive is through giving, and that compassion can breed more compassion. 

I thought the story was well told. Sometimes, the more important the message, the easier it can be for storytellers to communicate in heavy-handed ways, but I believe that was mostly avoided here, because the story can stand on its own. I assume the heart of this story is related to the current global refugee crisis, and if that's the case then this is a timely story indeed.

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author: Celine Claire
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Pages: 42
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

Since we live in a Northern state with long winters and plenty of woods around, Over and Under the Snow is a very relevent book for our climate, but is still an appealing nature book for any child.

The narrative follows a child and parent skiing through the woods, and continually contrasts the visible world that is over the snow with a "hidden kingdom" under the snow, where some animals hibernate, while others eat, sleep, and even make tunnels.

From bull frogs to queen bees, and from deer mice to bears, we are shown a variety of different creatures that spend the winter under the snow, as well as others that spend it above, such as deer and foxes. 

One of the best things about this book is the artwork -- lots of earth tones matched with cool wintery blues, which provide a nice contrast to the bright red fox. 

At the end the book gives a brief description of each animal mentioned, as well as a list of suggestions for further reading.

Scrounged From: Our local bookstore

Format: Paperback
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal
Pages: 44
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

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