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Sunday, October 29, 2023

Zander Stays, written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Scot Ritchie. Pajama Press, 2023. $22.95 ages 3 and up


"One morning, Zander awoke to discover 
that the puddles were hard, cold, and slippery. 
"They've turned to ice," explained the squirrel. 
"That means winter will be here soon."

"What should I do to get ready?" asked Zander. 

"Collect and store nuts," said the squirrel."

Young readers will not have heard such a story. Imagine a goose deciding that staying in the cold for the winter is a good thing! He wants more than the usual fare. No packing and flying south for him this year. 

Zander enjoys the many pleasures of autumn: leaf piles, windy days, sunset walks. He doesn't mind being alone. As the temperatures cool, Zander begins to ask questions of other animals in preparation for the upcoming winter season. Animal friends have varying advice which will elicit delighted guffaws from young knowledgeable readers. Zander is reluctant to consider their suggestions. Snow brings a thrill, and even more problems. No one is around to offer advice anymore, and Zander is far too cold. 

Luckily, help comes in snowboots, warm mittens and earmuffs. A little girl carries Zander to her cozy home. 

"Zander had finally found a northern animal 
whose winter adaptations were a perfect fit.

Grace and Zander spend a marvelous time together in front of the fire, reading to their heart's delight, while also enjoying a myriad of daytime activities outside. As spring bursts forth and his friends return, Zander has entertaining tales to tell. The lasting result of those stories is evident when kids see the new summer plan.  

While this tale from Ms. Fergus is rife with her signature storytelling, Scot Ritchie ups the humor at every turn with wonderfully attractive pencil, ink, and digital artwork that is fully focused on Zander. The final spread and endpapers add even more charm. 

An author’s note describes the winter adaptations of bears, geese, bats, snowshoe hares, and humans and discusses hibernation and migration.

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