Winter approaches, with snow for some and thoughts of holiday traditions. These picture books celebrate the changing of the seasons and have some fun with St. Nick.
A followup to Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, this picture book follows two children as they greet the various things they see as they walk through the forest and town—the leaves, the birds, the clouds, the sun, the frost and icicles. Each thing responds with its own greeting, talking about what it does, and over the course of the book the scenes transition from autumn to winter. The illustrations are lovely, and it’s a quiet, gentle book about winter’s arrival.
Fox sees that winter is coming and wonders what to do—and gets a host of suggestions, from the caterpillar and a turtle and a bear and some birds. But none of those suggestions seem quite right: foxes don’t hide away in cocoons or in the muddy bottom of the pond or hibernate or fly south. What’s a fox to do? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out … though I suppose the title may give you a little hint. This one is another cute book about nature and winter, and how different animals respond.
Snow Scene is also about the changing of seasons, from winter to spring to summer. Laura Vaccaro’s paintings are accompanied by Richard Jackson’s simple rhyming phrases: “What are these? Trees.” The simple text and colorful illustrations make this one good for wee readers.
Two sisters have different reactions to the snow—one rushes outside to play, and the other snuggles up with hot cocoa and blankets. But just as the first is ready to come inside, the second one gears up to go out. The text of the book is a clever mirrored poem, and the illustrations show that both sisters can enjoy a snow day in different ways.
Lines is a wordless book that begins with a single ice skater making swirling paths across a blank white surface, and the lines and swirls gradually accumulate. But Lee also plays around a little, showing that it’s actually pencil lines on a sheet of paper, zooming out to show the artist’s tools before populating the lake with many more ice skaters. It’s a cool mental shift to look at the art both as the image it’s portraying and as pencil lines on a piece of paper, and may get kids (and adults) thinking a little more about the art they see in books.
No matter what holiday you celebrate, chances are that the celebrations involve food! Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas shows two cultures that are mixed: a Jewish father and and Indian mother, celebrating Hanukkah by making dosas, a sort of rice-and-lentil pancake. The story centers on a boy and his little sister who climbs on everything as the family prepares for Hanukkah. Her climbing is an annoyance at first, but the boy figures out how to get her down—until her climbing plays an important role later on. As a bonus, the book includes recipes for dosas and sambar, a lentil stew.
And while we’re on the subject of food, A World of Cookies for Santa gives you a world tour of Santa Claus traditions from around the world, with a focus on the types of cookies and treats that kids leave out on Christmas Eve. (For instance, in Australia, sometimes Santa gets a glass of beer, because it’s summer in December!) The book is fairly long, too: there are 32 different locations described, and the illustrations of the snacks look good enough to eat. It’s delightful to learn about Santa’s different names and customs in different and regions, and in the back there are recipes for nine of the cookies mentioned.
Speaking of leaving cookies for Santa, Maxwell (from Ninja!) has a plan to catch Santa this year: he’s set up all sorts of ninja traps, to be triggered when Santa sits down to have his late-night cookies. But it turns out Santa’s a pretty good ninja, too, and has some of his own tricks up his sleeve. It’s a silly take on Santa Claus, one that fans of Ninja! will enjoy.
Meanwhile, Rory the dinosaur and his dad are preparing for Christmas, and they go out to look for a tree—but it’s kind of hard to find one that’s just right. Rory and his creative dad find a way to celebrate the holiday with friends nonetheless. Liz Climo’s illustrations are adorable, and we always enjoy following Rory’s funny adventures.
It’s almost Christmas, and Santa’s sleigh is in terrible shape! The elves start to repair it, but then decide to have a sleigh-off, with a dozen teams designing and building a new sleigh for present delivery on Christmas Eve. Jake Parker is great at drawing crazy vehicles, and he’s drawn some wild options for Santa. Which one will Santa pick?
Disclosure: I received review copies of these books.