It's the morning after a blizzard, and deep in the woods, the animals begin to notice that something is different. The birds are the first to call out the warning: "There's a stranger in the woods! There's a stranger in the woods!" But who is brave enough to take a closer look? Will it be the owl, the deer, the rabbit or the chickadee? How about the cardinal or the mouse? Slowly, slowly, the animals steal close to the stranger. What a surprise awaits them! For this stranger bears gifts: seeds and nuts in his hat for the chickadee, corn by his feet for the deer and even a carrot nose for the baby fawn.

Now can you guess who the stranger is? Stranger in the Woods is an unusual blend of stunning wildlife photographs interspersed with simple text that is sure to captivate young listeners. The authors, Carl Sams and Jean Stoick, are professional wildlife photographers from Milford, Michigan. In fact, many of the photographs in the book were shot during the blizzard of 1999 in Michigan. My favorite is the photo of a young doe tentatively nibbling at the stranger's carrot nose! This heartwarming story closes with a photo of two other strangers hiding in the woods: the children who have built the snowman and laden him with treats for the forest animals. Startling photography, a simple story and a message of sharing all make Stranger in the Woods a perfect holiday gift. And, as an added bonus, kids will especially delight in the "Recipe for a Snowman" included in the back of the book.

Stranger in the Woods has garnered the Ben Franklin Award for excellence in independent publishing as well as the 2001 International Reading Association Young Readers' Fiction Award. Sales from the book help to raise funds for the Nature Conservancy and for Rainbow Connection, an organization that makes wishes come true for children with life-threatening diseases.

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