A Message From Bigfoot:
It’s warm in my neck of the woods. Too warm. I’m no Abominable Snowman, but even Bigfoot wants a little snow on Christmas. Since that’s not going to happen, some of my friends gave me the next best thing—they rounded up their favorite snowy books.
MORZANT’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
Houghton Mifflin, 1998
Zeenton does not experience the meteorological phenomenon of snow. On Zeenton, crystals form on vegetation during periods of extreme heat. If it were possible for one to gather enough of these crystals together to form a ball, and if, subsequently, one were to throw that ball in their friend’s face, the upset at the attendant searing off of facial features would be in stark contrast to the mirth exhibited by those participating in an Earth-style snowball fight.
Snow’s novelty has rendered it a tremendous source of fascination for me. Had I not read SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, I would have assumed that a man as enchanted by snow as I am had come from a place where no snow existed—if not from the planet Zeenton, then from some region of the Earth untouched by the chilly crystals. But no, Wilson Bentley was born in Vermont, in the United States of America, where snow is plentiful. Mr. Bentley became obsessed with finding a way to preserve the beauty of the snow crystals he studied; he wanted to share their beauty with the world. Through determination and ingenuity, he perfected a method to photograph snow crystals. I would very much have liked to have known Mr. Bentley. I feel certain he would have been able to help me crack the mystery of Bigfoot’s photography impediment.
OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW
by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Perhaps what happens to outdoor dwellers in winter is common knowledge to native Earthlings. I confess I never considered the issue beyond the ursine population’s well-publicized annual periods of extended slumber. I suppose I took for granted that woodland creatures migrated to gentler climes. OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW enlightened me, however. Apparently an abundance of activity transpires under the seemingly quiescent cloak of frozen precipitate. With poetic language, the book follows a little girl and her father on skis over the snow while the father educates his daughter as to the concealed proceedings taking place under the snow. The girl is a fine scientist, observing hints of life forms on the snow’s visible surface and extrapolating the unseen happenings under it. Her red hat and scarf stand out amid the illustrations composed in blues and browns that convey both the chill of the season and the snug warmth of the concealed “subnivean zone.” An addendum provides additional information about the animals appearing in the book.
BEVERLY’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
MAKING A FRIEND
by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Atheneum-Simon & Schuster, 2011
I hate snow. It’s cold and when the sun reflects off it, it hurts my eyes. If it were snowing now, you know what I’d be? Annoyed. Then I’d fall asleep and have nightmares about killer icicles. Or be eaten by a raccoon. Probably both. So forgive me if I’m not crying buckets because there’s no snow here right now. But who am I to deny the great and wonderful Bigfoot his snow book? This is the only one I like. The boy in it makes a friend, literally. He makes a snowman. The snowman isn’t magical. It doesn’t dance or have snowball fights with the kid. It’s just a regular stationary snowman that the boy loves. And then it melts. Now before you get all huffy and think I’m being a snow scrooge, it’s not the melting snow that makes me like this book. I like it because it’s beautiful. The boy is sad when his snowman melts. But then he takes comfort that the snowman is still all around him in the rain and fog. Was the tear I shed at this book’s lovely sentiment once part of a snowman? Give me a break.
OLIVER’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
I like snow. You can play in it. You can look at it from inside your warm home. It’s quiet and soft.
NO TWO ALIKE
by Keith Baker
Beach Lane-Simon & Schuster, 2011
People who know a lot about snow say that every snowflake is different. I like to think about that when it’s snowing. This book is about how snowflakes are all different from each other and so is everything else. Like how Lenny, Violet, and I are all beagles but we’re not the same. I’m telepathic. I have freckles on my muzzle and tail. I can howl longer than Lenny and Violet. I’m different. I’m me. This book shows two red birds on a snowy day. They fly around and show how similar things are special. The pictures in this book are soft and cozy even though all the scenes are outside in the cold snow. Do you know what else are not exactly alike? Books about snow.
by Lita Judge
Atheneum-Simon & Schuster, 2011
I like this book. The only words are sound words. There are the sounds of footsteps in snow, the sounds made by a sled whooshing down a hill, and the sounds of animals gleefully shouting as they ride the sled. A bear borrows the sled from a boy without asking. He starts down the hill alone and lots of other animals pile on the sled as it goes. At the end of the ride, they all wipe out into a happy pile. The bear returns the sled. The boy watches for the bear to come back to borrow the sled again. When he does, the boy joins the animals on their next sled ride.
THE WINTER VISITORS
by Karel Hayes
Down East Books, 2007
There aren’t many words in this book either. The story is told through pictures in panels like in a comic book. The bears in this book borrow a whole house. They come to stay at a people family’s cottage after the people pack up and leave in wintertime. The bears take a sled ride. They use a canoe as a sled. My favorite part is when the bears invite all the other forest animals into the house for a big party. There’s music, cake, and decorations. The bears are good guests. They clean up the cottage before they leave in the spring. The people don’t know the bears were ever there. But they do wonder why the honey is all gone.
THE SNOWY DAY
by Ezra Jack Keats
Viking-Penguin, 1998 (1962)
The boy in this book is named Peter. He plays all day in the snow. He makes tracks and knocks snow off a tree. He makes a snowman. He lays in the snow and flaps his arms to make a snow angel. The best part of playing in the snow is when you get to go inside to warm up. Peter warms up, and so does the snowball he brings inside. It melts. It’s okay, though, because it snows again and he has more fun in the snow the next day.
HERE COMES JACK FROST
by Kazuno Kohara
Roaring Brook, 2009
You can have a lot of fun in wintertime. The boy in this book starts out bored. But then he makes a new friend who shows him how much fun winter can be. The friend is Jack Frost. He makes snow and ice. Because of Jack Frost, the boy and his dog can ice skate, sled, and and have a snowball fight. They have fun together all winter until the boy says a springtime word. That makes Jack Frost have to go away. But he promises to come back again next winter.
by Uri Shulevitz
Sunburst-Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004 (1998)
This is about another boy and dog. They know all about winter fun, so they get excited when it starts to snow. There are just a few snowflakes and the gloomy adults say that’s all the snow there will be. The boy and dog are excited anyway. There are more snowflakes. Soon everything is covered in snow. The boy and dog dance in the snow with the Mother Goose and Humpty Dumpty characters from the town’s bookstore sign. The snow buries all the gloominess in pretty white. I hope this book makes Bigfoot feel better. The gloomies who say we won’t have snow could be wrong. If they are right, Bigfoot and I can still read these books together and pretend we’re having a white Christmas.
LENNY’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Sometimes snow is quiet and peaceful. Other times snow can make you want to have big, loud fun.
by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by David Barneda
Borzoi-Alfred A. Knopf-Random House, 2010
Snowbots aren’t robots made of snow. They’re robots who know how to have big, loud fun in the snow. In this book the robots’ school is closed because it snowed so much. They spend the day playing in the snow in special robot ways. The robot with a chainsaw arm can cut ice into neat shapes like penguins and castles. The robots go flying down hills extra fast and shoot snowballs at each other like cannons. After awhile all their robot parts get frozen and their parents bring them inside to warm up with hot grease drinks by the fireside. There’s even a robot dog who wants to go on a snowy walk.
by Barbara Reid
Albert Whitman, 2011 (2009)
In this book the kids don’t get a snow day. They have to go to school, but they don’t mind because they’ll be able to play with each other at recess.
There are two kinds of pictures in this book. There are some drawings in cartoon panels and there are pictures made out of clay. My favorite clay picture shows the playground from above. You can see all the kids in their colorful hats, scarves, and mittens playing in the white snow. One kid wants to make a snow fort and another wants to make a lot of snowmen. All the kids work together to build a giant snow fort made out of snowmen. You can tell by the pictures that the kids are shouting and laughing and whooping it up and having a perfect snowy time.
SNEEZY THE SNOWMAN
by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Marshall Cavendish, 2010
Everybody likes to build snowmen when it snows. This book is so funny. Sneezy is a snowman who is always cold. Being cold makes him sneeze. He tries to warm up with hot chocolate and melts. So the kids have to rebuild him. They have to rebuild him again after he melts in a hot tub and another time when he melts next to a campfire.
The kids try to help him keep warm without melting by giving him a hat and a scarf and a coat. It sort of works, except then he’s too warm. He wants to take off the clothes, but the kids won’t let him because they know he’ll be too cold again. They come up with a good idea to cool him off. They give him an ice cream cone to eat.
I like the rhymes in this book and I like the pictures. There are a couple of birds in the background doing funny things during the whole story.
VIOLET’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Tricycle Press-Random House, 2010
I love snow! It makes me happy to play in snow. When I’m not playing in snow, I love to read about playing in snow and I’m so happy when I read SNOW HAPPY! because everybody in this book is having fun playing in the snow. There are lots of kids and dogs playing in the snow because kids and dogs love snow. There is one special dog. He is the main dog in the book. And that dog is a beagle like me!
The kids and dogs play in the snow and there are some funny squirrels, too, who make snow angels and throw snowballs. The colors in the book are pretty. The snow is white but there are colorful mittens and hats and scarves and berries and cardinals.
At the end of the day the kids and the beagle go inside to warm up with some hot chocolate and to cuddle up by the fireplace for a nap together. Even the squirrel is snug in his tree, ready to take a nap.
THE SNOW BLEW INN
by Dian Curtis, illustrated by Doug Cushman
Holiday House, 2011
I love this book because even though I love playing outside in the snow, after I am done playing in the snow I love to be inside all cozied up and warm. In this book a little girl cat and her mom run an inn and an inn is a place to stay and sleep when you are traveling away from your home. The little girl cat is named Emma and she has her very own room and she is going to have a friend sleep over but there is a snow storm and her friend is late. Lots and lots and lots of other guests come and the inn gets really crowded with bears and frogs and mice and rabbits and pigs and dogs and skunks and goats who are looking for a safe warm place to stay for the night. Pretty soon all the rooms are full and Emma is such a nice girl cat that she lets a momma fox and a little girl fox have her room. And Emma is sad because her friend still hasn’t come yet but don’t worry because her friend who is another little girl cat does come soon and she and Emma and the little girl fox camp out next to the fireplace and eat popcorn and that’s the best way to spend a snowy night. Eating popcorn with your friends and reading books about snow is the best way to spend nights that aren’t snowy.
BRIAR’S SNOWY RECOMMENDATIONS:
DAISY DAWSON AND THE BIG FREEZE
by Steve Voake, with illustrations by Jessica Meserve
Candlewick, 2010 (2008)
All the other books featured on this list are picture books. I chose a lovely chapter book that is part of a series about a special little girl named Daisy Dawson who can speak to and understand animals. All the animals love her because she is kind and helps them. She takes the two classroom gerbils out for their first joyful exposure to snow. Later, she helps a dog and a mamma sheep recover what they’ve lost. Because I’m psychic, I already know Bigfoot will enjoy this quiet, peaceful-as-a-snowy-day story.
Last year’s holiday recommendations: Season’s Readings 2010