Cozy by Jan Brett; illustrated by Jan Brett. 2020. Watercolor and gouache with airbrush backgrounds. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Brief summary: Cozy, a large musk ox, is separated from the herd in the cold Alaskan tundra. A lemming and her pups come across him standing in the snow and decide to warm themselves next to his foot being very quiet so they are not noticed. A snowshoe hare comes up to Cozy and asks if he could seek shelter under his fur from the snow storm. Cozy agrees asking him to please keep the noise down.
More Alaskan creatures take sanctuary under Cozy all trying very hard to get along so they are not thrown out into the cold. The snow begins to melt. A large hunk of the ox’s fur comes off meaning that spring has come. The animals leave saying they should get together again next winter.
Cozy is happy to find his herd family again.
Comments: Cute story of how to get along. Great story to share when doing the tundra unit with primary students.
When Winter Comes: Discovering Wildlife in Our Snowy Woods by Aimee M. Bissonette; illustrated by Erin Hourigan. 2020. Published in Sasquatch Books.
Brief summary: A family goes playing in the snow sharing with young readers what is under the snow such as hibernating animals and animal homes that live in the winter wilderness. They go ice fishing and share what is under the frozen ice. They go skiing and comment about the creatures in the trees. We learn what animals and humans do when Winter comes.
Comments: I like how the family is shown living in the snow and how the animals are coexisting. This would be great to share with a winter unit.
If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here by Simona Ciraolo; illustrated by Simona Ciraolo. 2020. Pencil and watercolor. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: A young boy shares how much he loves swimming and only ice-cream can get him out of the water. His older sister warns him to make the most of it, as summer is going to end. He asks what happens after summer, and his sister tells him a dark tale about how fall will come and then winter. He decides there is nothing he can do about it and just has to wait for it to happen. When fall and winter do arrive, they are like his sister said but all in a positive way in which he enjoys the changing of the seasons.
Comments: What a great story to share about the coming of the fall and winter seasons and what happens. Students can see some of the negative and positive traits.
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2020. Pencil and digital color. Published by Clarion Books.
Brief summary: Ethan asks his father if it is sap running time yet after sitting down to eat pancakes that have applesauce instead of maple syrup. The week after, Ethan’s dad makes him corn bread but still no syrup. He keeps asking his father when it will be time. Each Sunday, Ethan gets another answer. The days finally warm up with more sunlight. It’s maple syrup season! Ethan helps his father boil the syrup and pour the thickened liquid into bottles. Pancakes with syrup at last.
Comments: Young readers can relate to looking forward to having pancakes with syrup for breakfast but keep getting everything else instead.
I would include this book in the how things are made unit.
The maple syrup season is when the days are around 40* and the nights are below freezing which are usually between mid February to mid March.
Birdsong by Julie Flett; illustrated by Julie Flett. 2019. Pastel and pencil(composited digitally). Published by Greystone Kids.
Brief summary: Young Katherena and her mother move from their city house by the sea to the country. In the summer, Katherena is encouraged by her mother to meet their neighbor, Agnes and the elderly woman’s dog, Ôhô. Agnes encourages the young girl to draw. Over the seasons, they develop an intergenerational friendship and share each other’s passion of art. Agnes’s daughter visits her mother and welcomes the little girl to join her to sit at the old woman’s death bed until it is time to say goodbye.
Comments: This is such a nice and gentle story of a friendship between two artists. The ending when Katherena sits at Agnes’s side after covering the bedroom walls with her drawings of birds to give the elderly woman a beautiful sendoff is so touching.
I recommend this book for school counselors to have in their collections for students who may be experiencing death of a love one.
Knock Knock by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Guy Francis. 2018.
Brief summary: Bear is trying to get ready for winter and settle into hibernation when he keeps getting interrupted with knocks on his door.
Comments: A cute and clever story unfolds with the illustrations moving the story along with each knock knock joke. I would introduce this with the kindergarten unit on how animals get ready for winter.
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Richard Jones. 2017.Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Brief summary: A beautiful fox sees that winter is coming and asks the forest animals what to do. He learns that the woolly caterpillar will wrap itself in a chrysalis. The turtle tells him to bury himself in the mud. The fox continues asking the forest animals and realizes that he cannot do what they do. He comes across another fox as the snow begins to fall and learns what foxes do.
Comments: This is a beautiful, softly illustrated story that explains how the forest prepares for winter. This is a great addition for those season book collections teachers request.
Waltz of the Snowflakes by Elly Mackay; illustrated by Elly Mackay. 2017. Published by RP Kids.
Brief summary: A young girl and her grandmother get ready to go in the cold and blustery December weather to the ballet. Once inside, the girl sees a boy sticking out his tongue to her. Coincidentally, they end up sitting next to one another in the balcony section. Once the orchestra starts, her attention goes to the stage where she experiences many emotions as she sees the story unfold. The shared aesthetic experience brings the two children closer together with her even offering him a candy.
Comments: This story without words captures the first time a young girl see The Nutcracker. The illustrations are dark and cold to match the mood of winter and the darkness of the auditorium. The colors are brilliant and full on the stage. The story is easy to follow with the paneling and action of the illustrations.
Brief summary: The dormouse is deep asleep in his tree unaware of winter slowly turning to spring. The snow melts and animals come out of hibernation all around him while he continues to sleep and dream. A friend knocks on his door and wakes him. They get married and then are seen in the tree dreaming together.
Comments: This is an adorable book about that time when winter starts to slowing disappear and the hibernating animals are coming out to greet spring. This is not a narrative nonfiction book as several of the forest creatures are playing with darts, skiing and engaging in other outdoor games while the little dormouse is asleep in a tree above them.
I looked up dormouse, because I did not remember ever hearing about these type of mice when I was growing up. I found out why. First, they are not mice but are related more to squirrels. Also, they are not found in the United States but are in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They do hibernate for a long time– six months or more.
(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).