Monday, January 2, 2012

winter books

We've begun to put our festival books away already and I realize I never posted about all the sweet stories we read and re-read throughout the season.  There are so many that I figured I'd dedicate this post to those primarily associated with winter and not so much with specific holiday celebrations.  (Perhaps I'll back-post a "Christmas Books" list in the weeks to come.) 

One of our long-standing winter favorites is The Mitten adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett.  In this traditional Ukrainian tale, Nicki loses his white knit mitten in the snow.  The mitten is subsequently discovered by a growing number of animals who crawl inside the ever expanding weave to try to keep themselves warm on a cold winter day.  When finally a mouse crawls atop the bear's nose to snuggle in as well, the bear sneezes and the whole lot of furry friends are expelled from their makeshift shelter.
We like to re-enact this tale for puppet shows using our animals and any stray mitten or glove we find laying about.

A new addition to our winter collection is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen with illustrations by John Schoenherr.   This is a Caldecott Medal winner that we love for its beautiful and touching simplicity.  There isn't much of a story with this one - just a girl and her father walking in the woods on a winter night looking for owls.  It's a tale of wordless companionship in a hushed but magical world.  The understated narrative is a testament to the power of silence and the enchantment of the natural environment.

Two years ago, when storytelling as applicable to the seasons really became relevant for our young toddler, we discovered The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren with illustrations by Harold Wiberg.  I hadn't previously heard of this mythical little Scandanavian creature who guards farms at night but, from what I've read, he's somehow connected to the "soul" of the farmland over which he watches.  In this story, which so beautifully depicts the soft snowy silence of the forest farm, the Tomten looks after the various animals while the farmer and his family slumber.
(For an additional treat, check out The Tomten and the Fox by the same author and illustrator.)

Another offering from Jan Brett that provides a nice transitional tale from winter into spring is her beautifully illustrated Annie and the Wild Animals.  In this sweet story, Annie attempts to find herself a suitable new companion after her cat mysteriously disappears.  As with all Jan Brett picture books, what we especially love is searching through the borders and rich, imaginative drawings for clues and surprises.  This one contains foretellings of the birth of spring as well as the return of the missing cat with a new litter of kittens.  (Especially appropriate for us considering the newest members of our family.)

And what seasonal book list of mine would be complete without the pertinent book from Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairie Collection?  Flower Fairies of the Winter is another gorgeous assemblage of water colored fairie illustrations with accompanying poems and amazingly accurate botanical drawings of common winter flora.
Naiya loves the rhymes and I, as always, love that I can not only enjoy the beautiful pictures, but use them to help identify all the lovely winter foliage sprouting up around our neighborhood.

What are your favorite Winter books?


  1. Wow, how funny! All of these are on our lists. We are big Jan Brett fans so "The Hat", "Who is that knocking on Christmas Eve", and "Gingerbread Baby" are also on our shelf. We also love "The Snow Children" by Olfers. I am so sad when we set them away for next year.

  2. The Mitten and Flowers Fairies are favorites of mine, cheers Marie

  3. I guess there are just some standards on the Waldorf bookshelf, eh? Thanks for the additional suggestions Nicole. I love The Snow Children too but so far it has been only a library acquisition for us. Maybe next year. (I'll put it on my list! :)


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