It’s the first official day of winter, although you wouldn’t know it by looking around here – we got hit hard this last weekend and it’s been winter around here ever since.
The first book I’m reviewing is called, appropriately, “The First Day of Winter.” Written after the style of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” we read about all the things that were given to our main character by his friend, but over ten days rather than twelve. I’ll spare you the buildup and skip to the grand finale, but you have to sing along with me. Ready? Take a deep breath –
10 salty peanuts,
9 big black buttons,
8 orange berries,
7 maple leaves,
6 tiny twigs,
5 birdseed pockets,
4 prickly pinecones,
3 striped scarves,
2 bright blue mittens,
and a red cap with a gold snap!
He uses all of his gifts to decorate a huge snowman to celebrate the first ten days of winter.
This book not only brings out the joy of the season, but can be used to teach young children how to count to ten.
Our second book is called “First Snow.” Right from the first page I was taken by both the beautiful illustrations and the lyrical prose, which reads, in part:
“The moon is bright, barely there behind a haze of gray.”
The picture is also hazy, tall trees painted impressionistically against a foggy background of gray and white. It even looks cold.
It starts to snow and we see flakes falling to land on the trees, and then we go far down into the ground to find a burrow where a rabbit family sleeps, curled together in a downy pile to keep warm. Bunny wakes up and sneaks outside to see what is going on. He sees the snow, and his brothers and sisters come out to join him as he hops across the crunchy white ground in the moonlight. Then they hide behind a snowman to watch children hurry home to drink their hot chocolate.
This book is full of joy and innocence, and makes me want to go out and build a snowman of my own in the hopes that some bunnies will come hopping along to make friends.
Happy first day of winter!
(“The First Day of Winter” was written and illustrated by Denise Fleming and was published in 2005 by Henry Holt and Company. “First Snow” was written by Bernette Ford, illustrated by Sebastien Braun, and published in 2005 by Holiday House.)