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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waiting for Winter, written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser. Kane Miller, H B Fenn. 2009. $20.50 ages 4 and up

"Squirrel hasn't seen it snow.
He usually stays inside in winter.
But not this year!
This year, Squirrel is going to see it snow."

I thought I would wait to share this 'winter' book with you but I cannot do it. It is just too good!

Squirrel, as you may have gathered, is badly wanting to discover snow. Deer has described it as 'white and wet and cold and soft'. And so Squirrel waits...and waits...and waits, always anticipating something amazing. In a series of images we watch Squirrel's head droop, then his shoulders, then he bolts upright and begins to weaken again, until he is sprawled full out on the bare branch. Being bored with the wait is not going to help him with his discovery. The double page spreads showing his frenetic attempt to stay alert are hilarious! As he tears around, he awakens Hedgehog and convinces her to join him in the quest to see snow. When staying awake becomes difficult, they sing 'sea shanties' and rouse Bear, who lumbers over to confront the noisemakers. Bear will help. Again, they define snow...'white and wet and cold and soft'.

Since they don't know snow, they think they should check to see if it has arrived without their knowledge. A search is begun, and Hedgehog finds a toothbrush. Naivete wins out and it is determined that it is 'white, wet and cold and the first snowflake'. Imagine when snow fills the air! Then Squirrel finds an empty tin is 'white and cold, and inside a little wet'. What will winter be like when Squirrel's snow falls? Bear reminds them of the other descriptor...soft. Bear has truly found old white sock. It meets all the criteria! As the three friends ponder Bear's 'winter', something begins to fall from the sky. Ah, winter!

So much is conveyed through the amazing images that accompany this delightful story! The endpapers at the front of the book show birds as they take flight for their journey southward. On the title page you can feel the wind as it blows leaves and grasses toward winter. Throughout there are pages that have no words, but have much to tell just the same. Finally, the endpapers at the back of the book remind us of our story journey and leave us with a big smile. Perfect!

Be sure to see if you can find Sebastian's other fine book, Learning to Fly (Kane Miller, 2006) about a penguin who wants to fly, and about believing in yourself. Don't miss it!

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