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Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Children's Books About Snowless Winters

Winter picture books can get a little annoying if your child longs, Longs, LONGS for snow and you happen to live in Florida. So, while it's always good to share snowy winter books with children who live in temperate or tropical climes, it's also good to share a few seasonal stories that are set in a tropical clime or at least focus on something other than a winter wonderland. Here are some of the favorites I found. (And let me tell, y'all, they are few and far between, since most seasonal books are created to teach the differences in said seasons.)

Amadi's Snowman by Katia Novet Saint-lot. Amadi, a young Igbo boy from Nigeria, doesn't want to learn to read, despite his mother's strong encouragement. But when Amadi sees an older boy reading a book about snow, something he knows nothing about, his interest is sparked. And so begins a young boy's journey to literacy. Kirkus Reviews says about this favorite: ""Purposeful yet without the heavy didacticism of some books on the topic of literacy, this tale shines a welcome light on cultural differences."

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. This picture book about a hibernating bear and the forest animals who party all night in his lair continues to be much loved at our house. The text is rhythmic and rhyming, with different fonts and text sizes helping to convey the action and emotion of the story. Read this with lots of energy, and you're children will quickly join in during the repetitive text. This debut book of Wilson quickly spawned an entire franchise, including the popular Bear Stays Up for Christmas.

Days of the Blackbird by Tomie dePaola. This lesser known books by one of my favorite author/illustrators references a legend from Northern Italy that teaches that the weather is so cold during the last three days of January, the white doves that take shelter in the chimney tops emerge black from soot. The tale follows the story of a duke, his devoted daughter and a particularly beautiful white dove whose sweet song sustains the nobleman through a long winter of illness.

Frederick by Leo Lionni. Don't let the front cover fool y'all. This classic, award-winning picture book focuses on the winter season in a big way. While other mice are gathering food for the winter, Frederick seems to daydream the summer away. But when cold weather comes, it is Frederick - the poet mouse - who warms his friends and cheers them with his words. It's great for the preschool set, but still a favorite with early elementary school students, and always in high demand at the Tongginator's school library.

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. I love reading books about quilts during the winter because they convey such warmth and coziness, even if they aren't necessarily set during the season. Wendy recently turned me onto to Polacco books, and I am ever-so-grateful. This lovely picture book follows the real-life story of Polacco's own family from the time when her Great-Gramma Anna came to America during the last century to the present as they passed down a much beloved quilt through four generations. Most Polacco books are geared for elementary school students, so I wouldn't attempt this with children younger than five.

Little Cliff and the Cold Place by Clifton L. Lewis. A young boy is excited when he begins learning about an exciting place called the Arctic. Desperate to experience the cold, little Cliff plans a road trip with his father from their town of Glen Allen, Mississippi all the way to the Arctic. Of course Papa Joe knows how unlikely it will be for them to travel that far north, but he lovingly figures out how to bring the Arctic to his little Mississippi town for his excited son. This one might be a little hard to find, but check your local library.

No Two Snowflakes by Sheree Fitch. Eight-year-old Lou in Canada writes to Araba, his pen pal in an unnamed tropical country, to explain to her what snow is. In free verse, he describes it by moonlight, in the late day, and in the muddy spring. He describes winter delights such as tobogganing; packing snowballs; and making forts, igloos and snow angels. The vivid imagery and poetic language do an excellent job describing snow to one who has never before seen it, although you do have to ignore the fact that an eight-year-old wouldn't be capable of writing such eloquent words. Because of that, it's best suited for young elementary-aged students rather than preschoolers.

The Quilt by Ann Jonas. This ALA Notable Children's book makes me smile because I always think of the Tongginator's 100 Good Wishes quilt. The fabric squares all have special memories, which she loves to look at so much, she even loses sight of her special stuffed dog Sally amid the colorful squares. And when she falls asleep... her quilt comes alive, turning into a fantastical dreamscape she must enter in order to find her beloved stuffed dog.

Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. I'm sure it doesn't surprise y'all that my little Food Network addict loves this book about a girl and her mom making soup on a snowy winter day. In one two-page spread, Iwai cleverly offers lessons about numbers, colors, sizes, textures and what various vegetables look like. Be warned though... after you finish reading this book, be prepared to make Snowy Day Vegetable Soup because you'll find the recipe in the back of the book. (Interesting tidbit: the girl appears to be Asian while the mother is quite evidently Caucasian.)

Time To Sleep by Denise Fleming. This story about hibernation doubles as a bedtime story! I love that the animals help one another by sharing that it's time to start hibernating once bear smells winter in the air. Bear tells Snail, and Snail agrees, having noticed the frost on the grass that morning. Then Snail hurries off to tell Skunk, who must tell Turtle, who must tell Woodchuck, who must tell Ladybug. Each animal notices a sign of winter - the changing leaves, the shortening days, even the tightness of a full belly - and each has its own particular way of hibernating.


Kim K. said...

I just put Soup Day in my amazon shopping basket! Thanks for the book ideas!

The Byrd's Nest said...

Lottie dreams of snow also but it might be even less likely where we live than where little T lives! lol

I don't think we have read any of those books?? And we love books! Thanks for the great info!!!!!!!!

prechrswife said...

Thanks for the great info, from someone who lives in a land of no snow. :-) So much material out there just assumes that everyone lives where it snows in the winter.

Wendy said...

Love, love, love Patricia Polacco. Everything she's done!

Wendy said...

Didn't even notice the shout out in your reference to Patricia Polacco. Thanks! She's such an amazing writer.

For mommies with slightly older children, Kate DiCamillo's work is some of the most lovely literature for children(and adults) I've ever read. Amazing imagery and language.

Annie said...

TM, they all sound great!! We don't get much if any snow around here and the kids all LOONNGG for it!! I will have to get a few of these to read to the girls. The last 2 sound especially great!!! Thanks!