Winter Books for Your Favorite Ducklings

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Jack Frost is in the house and it looks like he intends to stay a while! Which means it’s a great time to snuggle up with your favorite little people and a good book. We’ve got some spectacular recommendations for winter picture books that will delight your littlest ducklings… and keep scrolling down to see some other awesome titles for the early readers in your house, all on the theme of winter. Break out the hot cocoa, bundle up and enjoy!

Little Dog Lost
By: Monica Carnesi

Little Dog LostA terrifying adventure set against an icy backdrop turns into a heartwarming tale of one canine’s remarkable courage and resilience. This sweet picture book recounts the amazing true tale of a dog discovered floating on an ice floe on the Vistula River off Poland in January 2010. No one knows where the animal comes from or how it has found itself in this predicament. Trapped it is, however, as it drifts 75 miles downriver for two days, defying rescue attempts. Finally, a scientific vessel, the R/V Baltica, spots the freezing, sodden, starving animal, and a crewman saves it, not without considerable difficulty. After recovering, the dog is nicknamed “Baltic,” and it remains aboard to become a beloved, valued crewmember. The story is told simply and charmingly. The author’s use of the present tense gives the narrative immediacy, and with very brief sentences, some dialogue and questions posed to readers, Carnesi imbues the tale with a strong sense of drama that will captivate young listeners. Her ink-and-watercolor illustrations are child-appealing and effectively capture the dog’s desperation and eventual contentment. An author’s note with accompanying photographs places events in context and brings the story to a very satisfying conclusion. This lost little dog will easily find a place in children’s hearts. Ages 3 – 5 (Kirkus Review)

When It Snows
By: Richard Collingridge

When it SnowsSnow doesn’t just transform the landscape; it can also open a window into majestic, imaginative territory just like reading a special book. Following footsteps in the snow-covered ground, a boy marches into a world of snowcapped mountains where children ride on the backs of wolves and polar bears, continuing on to the “place where the snowmen live” and through a “gloomy forest” where he meets the “Queen of the Poles,” fairies, and elves. Newcomer Collingridge’s paintings are sumptuous and absorbing, creating a genuine sense of magic. And, as the final scene makes clear, it’s a kind of magic that any reader can access: “And I can go there every day… because my favorite book takes me there.” Ages 3 – 6 (Publisher’s Weekly)

Owl Moon
By: Jane Yolen

Owl MoonLate one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer. Wordlessly the two companions walk along, or when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is. Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by award-winning John Schoenherr’s soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading aloud and sharing at bedtime. This timeless and beautiful classic—the winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal—celebrates its 20th anniversary with this edition featuring letters from Yolen and Schoenherr and a stunning silvery cover. Ages 3 – 8 (Publisher’s Marketing)

A Coyote Solstice Tale
By: Thomas King

Coyote Solstice TaleThis witty winter tale deftly skewers the materialistic aspect of the holiday season in a humorous, trenchant way. Coyote is surprised when a little girl with pretend antlers and a fake red nose shows up at his home in the North Woods for a visit. The girl leads Coyote and his four animal friends to a crowded shopping mall full of crabby shoppers and expensive merchandise. Coyote is intrigued, but he realizes he doesn’t need any of the items at the mall, and he and his friends return to the woods for a quiet dinner together to celebrate the solstice. The skillfully rhymed text entertains while making a case for more important aspects of the season than acquiring expensive gifts, and Clement’s humorous, cartoon-style illustrations in watercolor and ink add to the story’s overall appeal. Ages 3 – Up (Kirkus Review)

The Invisible Moose
By: Dennis Haseley

Invisible MooseWhen the most beautiful moose in the forest is captured by an evil trapper, a shy young moose knows that he must take action. He has always been secretly in love with the beautiful moose. Now he will follow her all the way from Canada to the wilds of New York City. He will rescue his true love come what may. But how? Luckily, Professor Owl McFowl has concocted a new formula, an invisibility potion! In this delightfully silly story of magic and adventure with a surprisingly touching core, our moose hero shows us that the truest beauty isn’t visible to the eye; it can only be seen by the heart. Ages 4 – Up (Publisher’s Marketing)

Snow
By: Uri Shulevitz

Snow‘“It’s snowing,’ said boy with dog.”
‘“It’s only a snowflake,’ said grandfather with beard.”

No one thinks one or two snowflakes will amount to anything. Not the man with the hat or the lady with the umbrella. Not even the television or the radio forecasters. But one boy and his dog have faith that the snow will amount to something spectacular, and when flakes start to swirl down on the city, they are also the only ones who know how to truly enjoy it. This playful depiction of a snowy day and the transformation of a city is perfectly captured in simple, poetic text and lively watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations. Snow is a 1998 New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year and a 1999 Caldecott Honor Book. Ages 4 – 7 (Publisher’s Marketing)

Snowflake Bentley
By: Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowflake Bentley“Of all the forms of water, the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” – Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)

From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance, but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.  Ages 4 – 8 (Publisher’s Marketing)

The Tomten
By: Astrid Lindgren

TomtenNo one knows when he came to the farm, no one has ever seen him, but everyone knows it is the troll Tomten who walks about the lonely old farmhouse on a winter’s night, talking to all the animals and reminding them of the promise of Spring. This outstanding book by the author of Pippi Longstocking—and winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award—has been called a “picture book of rare distinction” by the Chicago Tribune. Ages 4 – 8 (Publisher’s Marketing)

Trees of the Dancing Goats
By: Patricia Polacco

Trees of the Dancing GoatsTrisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato “latkes, ” and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors, “But what can we decorate them with?” Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa’s carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees—but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season. Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship. Ages 5 – 8 (Publisher’s Marketing)

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
By: Angela Shelf Medearis

Seven Spools of ThreadIn The Seven Days of Kwanzaa: How to Celebrate Them (1994), the author offered ideas, including crafts and recipes, for celebrating the cultural holiday. This latest title is an original folktale that will help introduce children to the holiday’s seven principles, while also suggesting how Kente cloth was first created. In a Ghanian village, a father’s will commands that his seven argumentative sons must make gold from silk thread “by the time the moon rises,” without fighting. Working together, the brothers create a tapestry of Kente cloth, the first multicolored cloth the village has seen, which they sell to the king’s treasurer for gold, before returning to their village to farm and live harmoniously. Well-paced, the story incorporates the Kwanzaa values without spelling them out too much. Minter’s attractively composed, dramatic painted linocuts, with strong community images and lively, silhouetted figures, root the story in a sun-drenched, magical landscape that will draw children even after repeated readings. An introductory section, with glossary and pronunciation guide explaining the principles, and an appended craft activity round out the volume. Ages 5 – 8 (Booklist)

Twelve Kinds of Ice
By: Ellen Bryan Obed

Twelve Kinds of IceEverything about this small book is precise. Twenty short chapters introduce the different kinds of ice that take one family through the winter, while McClintock’s pen-and-ink drawings, subtle yet celebratory, capture ice in all its incarnations. The first ice, you see, is a skim so thin it breaks when the children touch it. Second ice is like glass. But third ice doesn’t break. The narrator and her sister hear it coming: “We lay in our beds, listening to the cold cracking the maple limbs in the yard.” Field ice arrives as a narrow strip. Then stream ice, when you can watch fish swim beneath the surface. Black ice is a little scarier, but it’s good for skating. After the first snowfall, skating can be done at home on garden ice, made by packing the snow and turning on the hose. So it goes throughout the winter, as the family garden becomes a neighborhood hockey rink. When it’s perfect, it’s time for a skating party. Finally, the ice is gone. Lost mittens and pucks appear. But dream ice still exists and you can skate on it no matter what the season. Evocative and at the same time marvelously real, this is as much about expectation and the warmth to be found in family and friends as it is about cold ice. Children who don’t live in a cold climate will wish they did, and everyone will find this a small gem. Ages 6 – 9 (Booklist)

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving
By: Katherine Paterson

Giving ThanksA beautiful collection that manages to be both near-universal and deeply personal. Wilder Award winner Paterson offers an essay before each section: “Gather Around the Table,” “A Celebration of Life,” “The Spirit Within” and “Circle of Community.” In each, she illuminates a small moment: the scent of an orange; watching a cicada emerge from its shell over a steamy summer hour. The words that follow come from the King James Bible and Hildegard of Bingen, from speeches (“I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King Jr.) and from poetry (snatches from Wendell Berry and e.e. cummings), from non-Judeo-Christian traditions (the Navajo “house made of dawn”) to songs (Bill Staines’ delightful “All God’s Critters”) and spirituals (“All of God’s Children Got a Song”). All of them indeed give thanks and praise. Readers can give thanks and praise for the illustrations, too: Scherenschnitte, cut-paper illustrations of extraordinary power. In borders and full pages and spot images, Dalton once again wields her scissors in pursuit of magic. From deceptively simple (a grasshopper, a bird’s nest, a candle flame) to extraordinarily complex (a border of sunflowers, a plethora of vegetables), the pictures are as meditative as the words. The final page is “Blessed be” in the calligraphy of Anne Robin. Suffused with inspiring gratitude and joy. Ages 7 – Up (Kirkus Review)

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale (15th Anniversary Edition with Bonus Cookie Recipe and Pattern for St. Nicholas Cookies)
By: Aaron Shepard

Bakers DozenVan Amsterdam the baker was well known for his honesty as well as for his fine Saint Nicholas cookies. He always gave his customers exactly what they paid for—not more, and not less. So, how could he agree with a mysterious old woman on Saint Nicholas Day when she insists that a dozen is thirteen? The woman’s curse puts an end to the baker’s business, and he believes it would take Saint Nicholas to help him. But if he receives that help, will it be exactly what he imagined? Find out in this inspiring legend from Dutch colonial New York about the birth of an honored American custom. Ages 8 – 12 (Publisher’s Marketing)

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice
By: Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Return of the LightThe winter solstice, the day the “sun stands still,” marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year, and it comes either on December 20th or 21st. Celebrations honoring the winter solstice as a moment of transition and renewal date back thousands of years and occur among many peoples on every continent. The Return of the Light makes an ideal companion for everyone who carries on this tradition, no matter what their faith. Storyteller Carolyn McVickar Edwards retells twelve traditional tales—from North America, China, Scandinavia, India, Africa, South America, Europe, and Polynesia—that honor this magical moment. These are stories that will renew our wonder of the miracle of rebirth and the power of transition from darkness into light. All Ages. (Publisher’s Marketing)

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