Thursday, February 04, 2010

Winter Reading

I have been meaning to write about books for a while. I can't possibly remember everything right now, but I want to get a start anyway. We are currently awaiting another snow in St. Louis. Or, at least, we all hope we are! Even our headmaster was telling me today how much he could use a snow day! And so, with a nod toward happy winter weather, my first book is Cynthia Rylant's recent book Snow. You have probably seen this book on the shelves at the bookstore recently. It is beautiful. The illustrations are vibrant and inviting, but what I am really taken with are the words:

"The best snow is the snow that comes softly at night, like a shy friend afraid to knock."

"And then there is the snow that begins to fall in fat, cheerful flakes while you are somewhere you'd rather not be. Maybe school. Maybe work."

"Some snows fall only lightly, just enough to make you notice the delicate limbs of trees, the light falling from the lamppost, a sparrow's small feet."

I want to give you the whole book! But just go get it. From the library at first, but this is one of those you will probably want to keep.

If you are like me, and you do actually have a little bit of book money squirreled away from Christmas, you will want to get a book for each of your children. May I then suggest Snow by Uri Shulvitz? As you can see, it is a Caldecott Honor book. It is such a fabulous story. A little boy is eagerly anticipating snow in spite of the doubtfulness of the people walking by, the announcer on the radio, and the anchorman on the television, But, to the boy's (and the reader's) delight, snow does come in abundance. The author captures the feeling of joy and triumph so precisely and delightfully that you will feel it yourself. And couldn't we all use a little cheer and success?! Unfortunately, the only edition to easily obtain from your bookstore or Amazon right now is the paperback with audio recording. However, Scholastic is currently offering a hardcover for $8! You may think that you have to know a teacher to order from Scholastic, and, as far as I can tell, that is true. But you do know a teacher! ME! Alternatively, Amazon has sellers that will sell it to you, but you will have to pay shipping.

Another great book about snow that you will surely all be familiar with is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A book that we found at the library called Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee recently reminded me a little of The Snowy Day. In Tracks in the Snow, a little girl spends her day following the tracks in the snow outside her house and through the woods in order to discover who made them. It's pretty adorable, but a little familiar, like surely you've heard this story before. But children haven't, and that's who this book will delight.

Other notable wintery books you are likely familiar with include: Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, The Mitten as told by Jan Brett, and Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. But do you know about The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming? I have always meant to mention this one and I think I have neglected to this far. It is a book a little more appropriate for December, as the first day of winter is actually December 21st. However, the book is only "Christmasy" in that it can be read to the tune of the twelve days of Christmas. Of course, it doesn't have to be read that way. It is about a snowman and all the different things added to him each day for ten days ("four prickly pinecones, three striped scarves, two bright blue mittens, and a red cap with a gold snap"). It's really fun for kids.

But back to Cynthia Rylant, she is really becoming a favorite with me. You may already know her from the ever popular Mr. Putter and Tabby books and Henry and Mudge books. I will have to be sure to mention this again in the fall, but In November is an enchanting book of hers about the end of fall and the beginning of winter. I discovered several books like this this fall, so yes, I will definitely bring this up again. It is not hard to be enchanted by that time of year, but capturing the magic with words takes a special gift. I mention the book out of season now simply to further my case for Cynthia Rylant. I think I actually fell in love with her this last summer. That is when I read an absolutely marvelous series of six short chapter books called Cobblestreet Cousins that you simply must read as well. I don't care how old you are, you will love these. Another series she is developing for very young children is the Brownie and Pearl series. There is only one available now, the recently released Brownie and Pearl Step Out. This story is told very simply for very young children like Elspeth (who is three). I found this book just this week on the "New and Noteworthy" shelf at Barnes and Noble and was impressed with how very well it deals with a child's fear of going somewhere new without losing any of the whimsy of the story. Just this last weekend, we met with the very fear that Brownie encounters in the book, going into a birthday party where there are a lot of other children. I wish I had had this book to use as a reminder for Elspeth when she found herself shy and afraid to join her friends just like Brownie, who overcomes her fear in the end with help from a friend. The illustrations are simple, cheerful, and bright- perfect for preschoolers. Up and coming Brownie and Pearl books include Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up, which is scheduled to be released in May and is available for pre-order on Amazon, and Brownie and Pearl See the Sights which is scheduled to be out in August.

Well, this should keep you busy for a while! Hope y'all get some snow! Or, if that sounds more like a curse than a blessing, I hope you at least get some good books to curl up with inside while it is still winter outside.

1 comment:

Fittsy said...

I just adore C. Rylant and can't wait to get these at the library. Thanks for the recs!

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