Many of you will probably already know this one--The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren. The opening words and pictures show a hushed, snow-covered homestead. In the dead of night, the Tomten roams the farm, tending and speaking to the farm animals, and promising them that summer will return again. The story is very reassuring, especially to those of us in a Northern climate!
The Mitten by Jan Brett is a beautifully illustrated rendition of a Ukranian folktale. A lost mitten becomes a cosy den for first a mole, then a rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox and bear. The mitten is already overfilled by the time a mouse arrives, but still it climbs in upon the bear's nose. The bear, tickled by the mouse, sneezes and all the animals go flying. The mitten is found, though is rather stretched. This book is eye-candy, and I cannot take in enough details. Like many folktales, it inspires creativity. Last year, my children created beeswax animals and a mitten to enact the story.
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson is more fun than anything. The rhyme is dead-on and onomatopoeic. A bear snoozes in his lair, and while he sleeps he is visited by a number of woodland creatures: a mouse, hare, mole and badger, a wren and a raven. They feast on tea, popcorn and honey-nuts. As mouse seasons the stew bubbling over the fire, a fleck of pepper lands on bear's nose, causing him to sneeze (this sounds vaguely familiar!), and BEAR WAKES UP! After he is done growling, he begins to cry. He missed the party! The illustrations (by Jane Chapman) of the lair are warm and inviting, a distinct contrast to the pictures showing the cold, dark forest in the opening image before the title page.
Days of the Blackbird is Tomie dePaola's story of how Le Giornate della Merla (The Days of the Blackbird) came to be celebrated in northern Italy, and also about the loyalty of a dove (la colomba) and of a daughter. The text is sprinkled with Italian phrases and culture, similar to dePaola's Strega Nona books. It is especially nice to read this book in late January during the Days of the Blackbird--the coldest days of the year.
Martin Waddell's Let's Go Home, Little Bear is probably my favourite of all these books. Big Bear and Little Bear have been walking through the snowy forest. When it is time to go home, Little Bear keeps hearing things, such as plodders (their feet in the snow), ploppers (snow falling from tree branches) and the like, which make him pause to listen. A warm den is waiting for them once they finally make their way home, but not before Big Bear has to pick Little Bear up and carry him the rest of the way. I like this book because, as anyone with small children will agree, it can sometimes be difficult to coax children (and bears) to come along home.
I know there are lots of other books I should have mentioned; this is just a list to get started. Please let me know your favourite winter book, too!