Young readers will learn to appreciate nature's diversity with Now It Is Winter by Eileen Spinelli. The story features six little mice, all terribly tired of winter, and their wise mother, who helps them see and savor the magic of the snowy months. The mice are anxious for spring, for raspberries and cream rather than oatmeal and brown sugar, for paper kites and a band of April beach instead of blizzards. They paint sunny scenes even as they dress to go into the snow-covered outdoors, where they twirl on a pond in tiny ice skates and tumble down whitened hills. While the young ones wish for the future, their mother advises them to relish winter, to appreciate the present moment. Now is the blessing, she tells them in the final stanza. Now is the time to be. The little creatures are delicately depicted by illustrator Mary Newell DePalma, who accents her soft silvers and grays with dashes of vibrant color. Spinelli's brief, poetic lines are filled with lovely images. Simple yet profound, this touching little tale is just right for reading aloud. Julie Hale writes from Austin, where snowflakes are rarely seen.

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