Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, January 10, 2014

Arctic Antics

Early in the morning after a winter storm visits communities, the words snow day are uttered with joyous anticipation by members of households everywhere.  New memories will be made by those adventurous souls who dare to face the elements.  Humans are amazed at the youthful cavorting of their canine friends among the drifts.  Wintry weather has a magic all its own.

Telltale tracks attest to the nocturnal games played by neighboring animal friends before dawn breaks.  If you've ever wondered what animals might do if winter lasted longer, then wonder no more.   Author Kim Norman gives readers a glimpse of critters enjoying their frozen world in her newest book illustrated by Liza Woodruff, If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws! (Sterling Children's Books).  

If it's snowy and you know it, clap your paws.
You can tumble on the tundra, just because.
If it's snowy and you know it,
roll a snowball up and throw it.

Tasting frosty flakes, skating and making angel patterns on the lake are next on the day's agenda.  Others find further fun on the hilly slopes with some crazy, creative skiing.  If the sun shines strong and true, then it's time for some shaping of new pals made of snow.

All this romping and rollicking outdoors might be giving some of the crew a case of the shivers.  It's time to make a fort; big enough but cozy too.  Cracks in the ice enhance their already exciting escapades.

As the day draws to a close all are gathered together under the sparkling star-studded sky to enjoy a tasty twilight treat.  A crackling fire, hot drinks and warm tubs of water (for keeping toes toasty) make the evening complete.  Finally tucked in their beds, dreams deliver new excitement for the days ahead.

Taking a classic childhood favorite, If You're Happy and You Know It, Kim Norman adds her own personal zip and zing.  Her upbeat rhymes generate a rhythm hard to ignore, flowing in flawless phrases.  All possible activities are featured with notable doses of humor;

If the skies are crisp and clearing,
let the walrus do the steering.
If it's shimmery and sunny,
borrow glasses from the bunny.

Norman's words will have you singing, dancing and grinning from ear to ear but the accompanying artwork of Liza Woodruff will have you gasping for air, holding your sides and rolling on the floor in unrestrained glee.  Rendered in watercolor, colored pencil and pastel her matching jacket and cover set the tone for the entire book.  These animals love life and laughter.  There is happiness on every single two page spread.  Opening and closing endpapers in hues of white and cream with shades of blue and brown are patterned with snow critters. 

The picture across the verso and title page starts the story with the animals greeting each other as their snowy day begins.  Careful readers will notice the extra attention given in the details; the rabbit wearing sunglasses, the puffin holding a sign reading south as he stands next to a suitcase, the sheep eating the marshmallow bag and the seal wearing pajamas with fish bones on them.  In many of the illustrations little extra scenarios are unfolding in addition to the main one highlighted in the verse; the ice cracking on the lake, the crash on the ski hill, or the sulking puffin at the dinner table whose travel plans were waylaid.

I think my favorite illustration is the two-page spread of all the animals around the campfire after their meal. Everyone seems to be savoring the events of the day and these final moments before bedtime.  Of course the little guys in lawn chairs soaking their feet in tubs of water are hilarious as is the wide-eyed fox trying to get the moose's attention as his marshmallow burns to a crisp.

Whether you are looking for another title to add to your seasonal collection or not, do not miss If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws! written by Kim Norman with illustrations by Liza Woodruff.  The sheer fun rolls right off these pages tickling every funny bone in your body.  Get ready to move, groove and read this title once, twice and ten times more. 

If you wish to know more about either the author or illustrator please follow the links to their websites embedded in their names.

In case it's been awhile since this tune was on repeat in your mind, enjoy this video.  


  1. Xena's Mom, that was one of the most glowing reviews I have read. Thank you so much for taking the time to review our book. I am so happy that you enjoyed it and especially that you noticed all my little art details. You made my day! :)

    1. Liza,
      Thank you for stopping by my blog to read the review. It's always a pleasure to discuss such delightful books filled with laughter. If an artist takes the time to add those "extra" details, I want to highlight them whenever I can. They make the entire experience better for the reader. I'm happy that I made your day.