While it has by no means been really cold for very long here in our little neck of the woods, it has been cold enough, wet enough (nothing frozen, alas), and dreary enough for me to be through with winter already. I long for springtime and green and. . . the expected end of this pregnancy. (Did I say that? Excuse me.) No, really. I’m through with winter time, but at least I have found a book or two that capitalizes on the fun elements of winter weather. Sort of.
The dynamic duo of Eileen Spinelli and Marjorie Priceman have created an entertaining and colorful look at a wintertime world in which it looks like a streak of very cold weather will never, ever end. Cold Snap is the story of the citizens of Toby Mills and how they react to a week-long cold snap during which the Sullivan sisters wear long underwear under their church dresses, the doors of the city train freeze shut and the passengers have to be rescued through the windows by firefighters, tickets at the movie theater are slashed to half-price with a bring-your-own-blanket stipulation to compensate for the faulty furnace, and the mayor takes to wearing a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers over his office attire while at work. By the end of the week, though, the optimistic folks of Toby Mills come together to wring as much enjoyment out of this cold snap as possible. I really like the overall feel of this story–it reminds me of the times we’ve had cold snaps here in the Deep South, and how everything just is different. Spinelli is an excellent wordsmith who uses words that snap and crackle off the page:
Spoken words became puffballs in the frigid air.
A bitter wind nipped at noses. Tipped trash cans.
Flipped Chip off the creaky schoolyard swing.
Marjorie Priceman‘s trademark gouache and watercolor illustrations work with the text–both the diction and the formatting–to create a colorfully frigid world. This is a fun book, despite its chilly subject, and I give it a Highly Recommended. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)
Other snow/wintertime themed-books we’ve enjoyed:
- Snow by Uri Shulevitz (Caldecott honor)
- A Cold Snap!: Frost Poems by Audrey B. Baird
- Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Snowflake Bentley by Mary Azarian (plus several other titles, all in one post)
- Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee
- Footprints and Shadows by Anne Wescott Dodd
- The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader (Caldecott winner)
- 3 snow picture books: The Snowflake Sisters by J. Patrick Lewis, The Snow Cat by Dayal Kaur Khalsa, and Names for Snow by Judi K. Beach
- Coming Through the Blizzard by Eileen Spinelli (This is a Christmas book that I reviewed in my very first RAT post; obviously, Spinelli has a thing for extreme winter weather!)
- Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli
- Cousin Ruth’s Tooth by Amy MacDonald, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
- How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman
- Hot Air: The Mostly True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman
Ah, but I’ve saved the best for last! And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano is one of those quiet books that just sort of sneaks up on you, and by the end, you’re nodding your head in agreement with how the book presents the world, and you close the book with a happy sigh that spring has finally arrived. More of an observation than a story, this book captures the anticipation and suspense of the waiting. The text is sparse, with little more than a phrase (from the few long, long sentences which make up the text of the book) per page. Here’s the opening:
First you have brown,
all around you have brown
The real winner here, and you know this if you’ve been reading here at Hope Is the Word for very long, is that the illustrations are done to perfection by none other than Caldecott-winning artist Erin Stead, one of my favorite illustrators ever. From the bespectacled boy who plants his seeds to the motley assortment of animals that grace the pages of this story (including a toboggan-wearing turtle and a flower pot-wearing bear, not to mention dozens of adorable birds), every visual element in this story perfectly complements the theme of perseverance and anticipation. The muted colors of the illustrations brighten as the book progresses. Really, it’s perfect. As a Horn Book reviewer says of this year’s Caldecott Medal, “Perfect details. A heartfelt story. Unusual use of color. Stead vs. Stead. I would hate to have to choose.” Whether that’s Erin’s husband Philip’s A Home for Bird (review) or, and I think this is more likely, Philip and Erin’s Bear Has a Story to Tell (review), I agree: what a hard, hard decision this year’s Caldecott committee will have to make. They’re all winners, but And Then It’s Spring came to use at just the right time. Everyone, including the DLM, enjoyed this one. Highly, Highly Recommended. (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)
And Then It’s Spring was nominated for a 2012 Cybils Award.
Are you doing a lot of reading aloud these cold and dreary winter days? Please, tell us all about it!