January is the month for snow and cold and ice. Whether you live with snowy weather, or wish you did, pour a mug of cocoa and share these three picture books with your favorite little snowman.
WORKING FOR A LIVING
Husband and wife team Caralyn and Mark Buehner have come up with an intriguing idea in Snowmen at Work, the fourth book in their popular Snowmen series. What if snowmen had actual jobs as dentists, mechanics, grocers and the like? Sparkling oil-and-acrylic paintings pop with energy and allow the Buehners to create warm and humorous scenes on every page. Each spread includes four hidden characters—cat, mouse, T. rex and rabbit—adding to the fun. Readers will have to slow down to find these little critters, but the search will allow them time to appreciate the charms of each detailed illustration.
WORTH THE WAIT
Bunnies on Ice is Johanna Wright’s tribute to ice skaters of all levels. Reminding us that, as in many life events, “you have to wait for the conditions to be just right,” Wright takes us through spring planting, summer swimming and harvest. This trip through the seasons allows the reader and lap-listener to slow down and enjoy the journey. Wright’s gentle acrylic-and-ink illustrations, in her signature naïve style, are filled with details that amuse both the eye and the heart. The members of the bunny family enjoy one another as they celebrate life together—gardening, swimming, raking, cooking, building a scarecrow, making music and, at last, skating. I always want to join the families that Wright constructs, especially if it means I could bundle up and skate on a frozen lake.
The town of Toby Mills is cold. Very cold. After a few days of sub-freezing weather, the local paper declares what the townspeople already know: It’s a cold snap! Veterans Eileen Spinelli and Marjorie Priceman team up in Cold Snap, a brisk tale of one town as it handles a long period of cold weather. A statue of the town founder is at the center of the story. Actually, his nose is at the center of the story. The icicle that slowly grows from it is an unusual calendar of cold, but a humorous one that serves as a wonderful anchor for the story. Illustrations, in vivid, mostly primary-colored gouache, highlight a week of bone-chilling cold, but also show how warm a community can be. Millie and Chip throw snowballs, kids race down T-Bone Hill on their toboggans and skis, townspeople warm themselves in the diner, knitters create warm hats, and ice skaters race around the pond. As the week unfolds, the townspeople get colder and colder, shivering in their church pews, getting stuck inside frozen train doors, and suffering with broken furnaces. Priceman’s breezy style, all movement and energy, is a perfect fit with Spinelli’s staccato, happening text. Readers will want to stay in Toby Mills longer than the week—maybe long enough to enjoy some sugar-on-snow.