Thursday, February 7, 2013

Small, Wintry Delights

Yikes! The weather outside is chilly, and they're predicting snowfall in feet, not inches, for my area. So Story Slinger brings you books to share with someone small enough to fit on your lap. These are small but lovely stories on wintry topics:

I grew up on Snow Day (1962) by Ezra Jack Keats. I loved the art, even though as a country girl I couldn’t completely identify with the little guy exploring city snow. 

Tracks in the Snow (Henry Holt, 2003) is a perfect suburban-country-small town remake of Snowy Day. Artist and author Wong Herbert Yee beautifully captures the quiet wonder of exploring the woods just out the back door.

The illustration style has the soft, no-hard-edges quality of powdery, new snow.

I Am Small by Emma Dodd (Scholastic, 2010) has a cold, wintry setting, but the small pages pack a great deal of warmth. A young penguin laments, “The world is big and I am small.”  Other scenes and page spreads repeat the central idea: “The winter is long…and I am small.”  Still, this little bird isn’t alone. “I may be small,” the penguin tells its parent, “but I can see / the biggest thing to you…is me!”

Snowy Day, Tracks in the Snow, and I Am Small work well with very young children. The final small wintry delight is for more patient listeners. If you know a young person (say in first or second grade) who still enjoys a story told one-on-one, you’ll both love Twelve Kinds of Ice (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) by Ellen Bryan Obed with illustrations by Barbara McClintock.

Obed’s prose is spare, brisk, and even a little brittle as she describes how ice forms and changes throughout one northern winter—and how much joy something as simple as ice can bring:

The second ice was thicker. We could pick it up out of the pails like panes of glass. We would hold it up in our mittened hands and look through it. Then we would drop it on the hard ground to watch it splinter into a hundred pieces.

McClintock’s inked illustrations help place the story in an earlier era, and the book’s small size adds to its cozy appeal.

So as the temperature drops and the blizzard rages, grab two cups of cocoa, track down two or three of these books, and then invite someone small to sit and story-share.

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