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Monday, February 13, 2012

red sled, by Lita Judge. Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, 2011. $18.99 ages 2 and up


Looking to warm a cold winter day with conversation and a cuddle? I have just the book for you.

Wordless picture books have such appeal for me, and I love adding to my collection. There is so much to see in them, and to learn from them. I have been encouraging teachers and preservice teachers to think about using them with all students. They will have a special appeal for our students who are learning English as their second (or third) language. Wordless books are stories to be enjoyed in all languages and often offer universal experiences to be shared. Visual literacy is an important aspect of every child's education. What better way to enhance it than with an extraordinary stack of wordless 'stories'?

Red Sled has instant appeal...a small bundle of child watching contemplatively as a brown bear heads somewhere, red sled tucked under its arm. And oh, that smashing red hat! Now, to the story.

A still and frosty day, the chimney smoke rising straight up into the atmosphere, that same small child heading home after a day of sledding. The sled leans sedately against a weathered cottage wall, while night descends and light beams from a snowy window. An inquisitive bear looking for adventure, intrigued by the unternded sled...too much temptation!
Evidently, the forest animals are all looking for adventure. They soon join their pal for an evening of fun on the snowy slopes. No one wants to be left out. Like kids, they ride faster and fuller until they cannot do another run. Bear returns the sled and off they go, tired and ready for slumber. The following morning the child makes a thrilling discovery of his own and is not reluctant to act upon it! Another snowy evening, another visit to the cabin, a new rider...perfect!
The pencil and watercolor artwork is full of wonder and delight as readers watch the expressive and suitably excited animals cavorting on a snowy moonlit hill. I couldn't wait to turn the page and pore over each new scene! The sound effects are perfect and invite excited audience participation. The joy of those many downhill rides is palpable and almost makes me want to try it all over again. Not likely, but it sure evokes strong memories of past family fun.

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