Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Seasonal Sensations #2

We are in the midst of a huge pause.  The winter solstice 2021 was observed on December 21, 2021.  Today, December 26, 2021 marks five more days before the new calendar year begins.  Some seasonal holidays have been celebrated; preparations for others are still being made.  It is as if everything and everyone are holding their collective breaths, waiting for what comes next.

Waiting is an important part of life.  It is not an easy skill to learn.  In The Snowflake (Harper HarperCollinsPublishers, September 14, 2021) written and illustrated by Benji Davies, two individuals learn the rewards far outweigh the act of waiting. 

High in the sky, one winter's night,
a snowflake was made.

She wheeled and skipped and twirled
between the clouds.

Starting to fall, she panicked.  A cloud reassured her as she tumbled.  Below her, a great distance away, a girl, Noelle, wished for snow.

Every time the snowflake thought she might land, she was blown away.  She was helpless.  She passed over country and city landscapes.  In one window, she saw a star on top of a tree.  Noelle with her Pappie saw the same tree. 

It got darker and colder and still the snowflake flew and fell until the sound of laughter announced the presence of hundreds of snowflakes.  Noelle found the branch of an evergreen by the walkway, the only tree they could afford.

At home, her mother and grandfather helped her to decorate it.  She placed it on the ledge outside their window and wished again for snow.  Early the next morning, a single snowflake and a little girl discover the miracle of waiting and wishing fulfilled.

Using a combination of narration, thoughts revealed and dialogue, author Benji Davies welcomes us into this story.  We understand the snowflake's confusion at not knowing her future.  We know, like Noelle, what it is to want something beautiful, but to settle for less.  In this confusion and in this settling for less, we realize, through Benji Davies's descriptions, something memorable and something unexpected can happen.  Here is a passage.

The snowflake passed many windows that
glowed through the evening light.

In one window sat a tree strung with lights,
and on top a bright star shimmered.

For a moment, the snowflake forgot
all about falling.

Oh, to be the star on
that glistening little tree!
she thought.

In both scenes on the front and back of the matching dust jacket and book case, Benji Davies introduces us to the snowflake and Noelle.  On the front, Noelle and the snowflake stand together in an imagined meeting during an evening snowfall.  The snowflake is looking for a place to be, and Noelle is hoping for snow on her tree.  On the dust jacket the title text is in gold foil.  Gold foil is etched in tree branches, along the side of Noelle's home, and other snowflakes.  

To the left, on the back, the storm has coated the landscape in snow.  As the sun rises, Noelle's home, her yard and buildings in the distance are bathed in a contrast of light and shadow.  Noelle and her dog are outside.  She stands and holds her tree up high, the snowflake at the top, glowing in the sunlight.  The words here read:

Wherever the wind takes us,
we all find a place to land. . .

The bright red shown for the author illustrator name on the front of the jacket and case covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Tiny pieces of white cut paper are strewn across this red background.  On the right and left sides a large snowflake is circled by six smaller snowflakes, creating one huge snowflake.  They all look like they've been cut from paper.  This is visually striking.

On the two-page picture for the title page we read this dedication on the left:

For my dad who inspired
this story---the real Pappie.

This illustration is at night.  Noelle's little house sits on a hill in the country outside the city.  Light shines from her bedroom window, a large window downstairs, and the doorway.  A few stars are set in the dark sky with clouds starting to gather.

The image sizes in the book range from double-page pictures, to full-page pictures, and smaller insets with loose frames, some alone on a single page and others sharing the single page with one or more visuals.  These various sizes further emphasize the narrative.  The facial expressions on the cloud, snowflake, Noelle, and her Pappie, in their simplicity convey a range of emotions.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  It is a night scene in the city, a panoramic view with us looking slightly down on the setting.  The city buildings and surrounding area are done in deeper colors of blue, purple, and gray with black.  Windows glow with different hues of yellow, and rose.  In the background a row of street lights outline a pathway.  Stores in the city, in the foreground, are festive in their window displays and the outside lights hanging on walls.  In the lower, right-hand corner is the window with the decorated Christmas tree.  The snowflake looks at it with wonder.  Pappie and Noelle are on the left, standing in front of a Fish & Chips window.

This gentle story, The Snowflake written and illustrated by Benji Davies, is full of promise and potential.  It illuminates patience.  Although the time of year is for those celebrating Christmas, this story works well in any seasonal story time or even as a bedtime story or a story to provide calm.  I highly recommend you place a copy on your personal and professional bookshelves.

By following the link attached to Benji Davies's name, you can access his website to learn more about him and his other work.  Benji Davies has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website is a short book trailer.

When cherished characters return in a book, there is nothing more satisfying.  When their appearance is in a holiday title, the happiness doubles.  In his two previous volumes, Bulldozer's Big Day and Bulldozer Helps Out, this little machine with a huge heart has won our collective hearts.  His return in Bulldozer's Christmas Dig (A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, Atheneum Books For Young Readers, September 21, 2021) written by Candace Fleming with artwork by Eric Rohmann sends out a mighty message.

It was Christmas Eve,
and Dump Truck was carrying . . .
     carrying . . .

Digger Truck and Crane Truck were busy, too.  Bulldozer was still, but his mind was in overdrive.  He was worried he didn't have gifts for his friends.

Although the construction site was buried in snow, Bulldozer saw something sticking out the top of a drift.  Maybe, he could uncover a gift.  (You never know what treasures a dig will reveal.)

Three times, he raised his blade and scraped at the snow.  Three times, he uncovered nothing resembling a gift for his friends.  Did he stop?  No, he did not.  He worked until it started to get dark.  His worry increased. But then . . .

He started to push on the pile of junk he had unearthed.  He pushed and paused and pushed and paused.  He scurried to add the final touch.  The other trucks were ready to quit, but not Bulldozer.   Finally seeing his present to them, they were nearly speechless.  Bulldozer's feline friends added the top-tip treasure.  It was a one-of-a-kind Merry Christmas delight.

On page one, author Candace Fleming brings us into the rhythm of the construction site crew.  She uses repetition of action verbs, different ones for each vehicle, to invite readers to the story.  When Bulldozer is seeking to find presents for his friends, each time there is a 


we know he is hopeful. (After each thunk, Candace Fleming inserts a new sound word.)  When Bulldozer and his friends speak, they usually do so with highly descriptive words like whooped, sniffled, boomed or clanged.  These word choices by Candace Fleming make this a sensory and participatory experience to be enjoyed often.  The word treasure plays a significant part.  Here is a passage.

Tossing it aside, he kept on digging.
Scra-a-a-a-ape . . .
     Scra-a-a-a-ape . . .
          Scra-a-a-a-ape . . .

"Treasure?" hoped Bulldozer.

He may be a bulldozer, but looking at Bulldozer, smiling with the wreath draped over him, on the front of the matching dust jacket and book case will make readers want to reach out and hug him.  Two of the kittens under his care are featured along with ornaments and a present in the snow.  The snow topping the letters in the title text, embossed in red foil, and lights hanging from those two words hint at the tale's ending.  Shadows in the background on the front remind readers of the location of the construction site and also hint at the conclusion.  

To the left of the spine, shadows of the other vehicles and the cityscape are shown against the continuing night sky.  The ISBN is toward the top where more lights are draped.  A cardinal is perched on the ISBN.  Thumbnails of the front of the two previous books are tucked in the lower, left-hand corner and are wrapped in a bow like presents.

The left and right side of the opening and closing endpapers, respectively are red.  The opposite page is white with red text.  On the first is the title in block letters.  On the second is the dedication and publication information.  A two-page picture of the snowy city on the left and Bulldozer with three kittens shown through the wreath on the right is used for the formal title page.

The illustrations by Eric Rohmann 

were made using relief (block) prints.  Three plates were used for each image.  The first two plates were printed in multiple colors, using a relief printmaking process called "reduction printing."  The last plate was the "key" image, which was printed in black over the color.

Each illustration, whether it is a two-page picture or a series of four vertical panels is outlined in a thick black line.  Each element in each visual is outlined in black. (Readers will gasp at the wordless vertical image which requires them to turn the book.)

The kittens and the cardinal appear in most of the images.  The kittens are shown peeking, playing, resting with Bulldozer, or lending a paw.  Sometimes we are brought close to them and their antics.

One of my many favorite illustrations spans two pages.  Most of the background is a slowly darkening sky with snowflakes falling.  Along the bottom is a snowy surface.  Bulldozer is hurrying to the right.  He is almost off the page.  Trailing behind him is a string of colored lights.  The cardinal flies in front of him.  Racing behind him, left to right, are three of the six kittens.  The one at the end has paused to play with the string of lights.

Fans of the Bulldozer, the Christmas holiday, and ingenuity will welcome this newest edition, Bulldozer's Christmas Dig written by Candace Fleming with artwork by Eric Rohmann, to the series.  We learn, as does Bulldozer, the best presents are those made from the heart, and sometimes they are right in front of us if we use our imaginations.  This book is a wonderful addition to your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann and their other work, please access their respective websites by following the link attached to their names.  Candace Fleming has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.

As we move from summer to autumn and now to winter, our clothing selections vary.  We wear more layers.  A short-sleeved t-shirt is worn under a long-sleeved t-shirt.  Sweaters are placed over long-sleeved t-shirts and turtlenecks are worn under sweatshirts and sweaters.  Although Sweater Weather (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, October 5, 2021) written and illustrated by Matt Phelan takes place in an autumn setting, all you have to do is stand in any classroom at recess and lunch times during the winter months to know a similar version of this story is repeated hundreds of times on a daily basis in a single school building.


Papa Bear makes this announcement as seven cubs give him a confused stare.  Papa Bear sits to knit as he waits for those youngsters to don their sweaters.  It is taking a lot longer than it should.  And what are those loud noises coming from their bedroom?

These cubs have no clue on how to put on their sweaters.  Papa Bear reorganizes the disarray.  The cubs start again and it does not go well.

Finally, they are ready to go outside.  It took them so long, it is now dark.  Before long, the cubs make a discovery.  So does Papa Bear.  The night discloses its mysteries.

Papa Bear gathers up the group and takes them inside.  Two more two-word declarations are made.  Sweet dreams little bears.

A minimal amount of words by author Matt Phelan leaves room for reader interpretation which in turn leads to loads of grins and giggles.  Most readers among us have probably been a participant in the fine art of procrastination even when it is not entirely planned.  This increases the comedy.  The complaints and commentary by the cubs will have readers rolling on the floor with laughter, especially when the dialogue is reversed between the smallest bear and Papa Bear.  

One look at the expression on the face of Papa Bear amid the cubs on the front of the dust jacket is guaranteed to have readers smiling knowingly.  The seven cubs are struggling to get on their sweaters and creating chaos.  In an excellent design choice, Matt Phelan's name is written in yarn and the title text is stitched on a portion of sweater.  The title text is varnished.  To the left, on the back, in a horizontal swirl of red and orange we read written in red yarn:


The canvas for the book case is white.  On the front, Papa Bear is circled by the seven cubs in various stages of undress.  On the back, in a loose circular watercolor wash, Paper Bear is holding all the cubs.  Most of them are nearly fast asleep.

The opening and closing endpapers are red and orange with a knitted texture.  On the first set, a large ball of dark yarn is placed on the left with a single strand unwinding toward the right.  The ball of yarn is smaller at the back and is placed on the right with a single strand extending to the left side.

On the formal title page, Papa Bear stands in the window of their home, holding a cup of a steaming beverage.  Around their house is an autumn-colored woodland.  Large leaves are falling in front of the home on the left and near the title text on the right.

These images were made by Matt Phelan using

pencil, ink, and watercolor on hot-pressed paper.

They are full-page pictures, double-page pictures, framed images, two to a single page, and sometimes loosely framed visuals, three to a single page.  These variations in image sizes pair nicely with the spare text.  Multiple times the pictures are wordless.  Readers will enjoy the facial expressions and body postures of all the characters.  They are hilarious!  Careful readers will see a problem in the offing when the cubs try to put on their sweaters a second time.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  On the left, Papa Bear is standing in the cubs' bedroom doorway.  Spread before him across both pages are the cubs attempting to put on their sweaters.  One is upside down with the sweater not even off their head.  Another is standing up with one eye peeking out the neck of the sweater.  Two cubs are inside a single sweater.  And another cub is lying on the floor with only their feet showing out the bottom of the sweater.  The arms of the sweater have somehow managed to get tied together in a knot.

This book, Sweater Weather written and illustrated by Matt Phelan, is the ultimate title in showing how best-laid plans don't always work out, especially when seven little cubs are involved.  It does, however, depict how those same seven cubs can take a situation and make it memorable by learning something new and seeing something extraordinary.  The wearing of sweaters has never been as endearing as it is in this title.  You'll need a copy for your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Matt Phelan and his other work, visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  Matt Phelan has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

In November of 2020, a startling discovery was made in New York City.  As is customary, a tree had been selected as the centerpiece at the Rockefeller Center.  It was cut down in upstate New York in the town of Oneonta and hauled from the woods to the metropolitan area.  Several days after its arrival in New York City, a worker found an adult Northern Saw-whet owl in the tree.  This book, The Little Owl & The Big Tree: A Christmas Story (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, October 19, 2021) written by Jonah Winter with illustrations by Jeanette Winter tells this miraculous tale.

There was once an owl who lived in a tree.

She had no name, but she was the tiniest owl in the eastern United States. She lived tucked inside a hole in a tree.  She only left that hole at night to hunt.

All was well in the world of this tiny owl until one day, she woke up before the night.  There were loud noises and voices.  Her tree moved.  It fell down.  It was wrapped and placed on a truck.  The ride lasted for hours.

During all of this the little owl never moved.  She was still inside her tree when a new barrage of noises reached her, the sounds of a city.  As the protection and bindings were removed from the tree, the little owl came from her hole.  A man was staring at her!

She was exhausted from the ordeal and offered no resistance.  The man carefully placed her in a box with pine branches.  His wife took her to a rescue sanctuary.  There a woman cared for the owl until she could find another tree in another woods.  The owl now was given a name, Rockefeller.

Simple sentence by simple sentence, each one ringing true, Jonah Winter builds the story of this remarkable owl.  The more we read his words, the more we realize how incredible the circumstances were.  By the end of the narrative, our respect for the owl and the man who found her is enormous.  Here are two passages.

It was loaded onto a truck
and driven away---
with the owl inside her little hole,
inside the big bundled tree.

The noise of the truck on the highway
was unlike anything this owl had ever heard.
Hours went by,
with the rumbling and the noise and the motion.

The cooler, calming hues used by artist Jeanette Winter on the open and matching dust jacket and book case, set the tone for the resilience portrayed in this tale.  The close-up of earth's full moon set in the starry sky with the owl perched on top of her tree allows us to see how truly small and exceptional she was.  This portrait of her is framed in the same color used in the title text.  To the left of the spine, on the back, a dusty pink color is used for the background.  A square visual is framed on this canvas.  Within the frame are the boughs of the tree.  On the boughs is the box with Rockefeller and the pine twigs inside.  On the front of the dust jacket the main title text is raised to the touch.

The opening and closing endpapers are covered in the same dusty pink shade.  Within a small circle bordered by pine needles, the owl sits looking out her hole at the forest.  This image is placed between the text on the title page.

Page turn by page turn framed illustrations in varying perspectives complement the text.  We see the owl, tiny with respect to her home and the forest.  Then we are brought close to her, seeing her sleep in her hole.  When the lumbermen arrive to cut down the tree, we are looking out her hole with her, wondering at the strange sounds.

Each visual created by Jeanette Winter is individually striking, but sometimes the illustration on the left is part of the illustration on the right, even though they are separated by the framing and gutter.  This supplies readers with a valuable and pleasing continuity.  

One of my many favorite illustrations is separated by framing and the gutter.  On the left page we see the interior pine branches with a portion of the worker's arm and gloved hand.  The tiny owl, on the right side, is nestled in the palm of the worker's gloved hand.  (Jeanette Winter did her research.  The color of the gloves matches those of the worker who found the owl.)

For a story time on birds, owls, seasonal holidays, or how humans and nature unexpectedly meet, The Little Owl & The Big Tree: A Christmas Story written by Jonah Winter with illustrations by his mother, Jeanette Winter, is an excellent choice.  At the conclusion of the book is an author's note giving readers more precise facts.  Both your personal and professional collections will be enhanced by including a copy of this title.

To learn more about Jonah Winter and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  This publisher does include the entire jacket and case.

We know we are reading a great story when nonfiction reads like fiction and fiction reads like nonfiction.  Without realizing it, we've become a part of the story and it finds a permanent place in our hearts.  When you read  Red and Green and Blue and White (Inspired by a true story) (Levine Querido, October 19, 2021) written by Lee Wind with pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky, page turn by page turn, your initial sadness swells to something wonderful.  People honoring the differences of others by standing up to bigotry is about humans being their best selves.

On a block dressed up in Red and Green,
one house shone Blue and White.

In Isaac's home he and his family were preparing for Chanukah.  Across the street in Isaac's friend's house, Teresa and her family were decorating their home for Christmas.  Isaac was a poet.  Teresa was an artist.

Though they expressed themselves differently in their creativity and in their religious beliefs, Isaac and Teresa had loads of fun enjoying their similarities.  When darkness fell, one house glowed red and green and the other house glowed blue and white.  Deep into the night, while everyone was asleep, people approached Isaac's home.  A rock smashed their window and their menorah went out.

Though they were frightened, the next night the menorah light shone in the new window in Isaac's home.  To support her friend and his family, Teresa drew a picture of a menorah and labeled it


She placed it in her family's window and the light from their Christmas tree made it glow blue and white.  Can you imagine Isaac's joy at seeing this artwork in Teresa's window?

Teresa's idea spread from friends to institutions, and then to businesses.  Weeks passed.  Do you know how many drawings of menorahs there were in their community?  The number was staggering and uplifting and overwhelming in all the right ways.  Well done humans, well done.

To begin, author Lee Wind designs a subtle rhythm with his words.  We go back and forth between the two friends, learning about what makes them unique and what makes them alike.  Through his word selections, we form an emotional attachment to the friends.  We feel the fear of Isaac's family, their strength, and Teresa's relief when they light their menorah again.  It's all we can do not to start dancing with joy at the words we read when Isaac sees Teresa's drawing for him.  As the response by the community is recounted by Lee Wind, we feel the joy growing and growing.  Here is a passage.

They both loved playing in the snow,
counting down to
the holidays,
and thought you couldn't have
too many sprinkles on a cookie.

When you look at the open dust jacket and open book case, you realize they are similar.  Through the shattered window on the front of the dust jacket, we see homes decorated for the holidays.  We see people lining the street in front of those homes with joined hands.  In the face of prejudice, this community stands with Isaac's family.  In the broken opening stands Isaac's family and Teresa's family.  On the outside of the opening, the shattered glass is varnished.  On the back of the jacket, a cluster of six decorated homes is placed on the deep blue canvas. 

The book case has the same artwork except on the front.  The street is empty of people.  The open door is closed.  The shattered glass and text are removed.  It is calm.

The artwork on the opening and closing endpapers is stunning.  Tiny people from all walks of life frame the canvas.  Their arms are linked.  On the opening endpapers, the background is dark.  A scroll of red ribbon joins a scroll of green ribbon.  The green ribbon joins blue ribbon and on the far right white ribbon loops.  On the closing endpapers, the two pages are again divided into four vertical panels.  On the first, green ribbon loops on red.  Then on the second, a richer blue is placed on green.  Red loops through blue before blue loops through white on the final panel on the right. 

This artwork by Paul O. Zelinsky on matte-finished paper

was drawn on a Wacom tablet, in images of up to 150 layers,
using brushes of the artist's own creation.

For the initial and formal title pages, we are looking through clouds down at the community.  We move in closer at night to view rows of houses in the community decorated for the holidays as the story unfolds.  There is a superb blend of double-page pictures, full-page pictures working together as one idea, and a collection of smaller images to denote the passage of time.  You find yourself pausing after each page turn to study the details and marvel at the perspectives.

One of my many favorite pictures is a double-page picture.  It is at night and it is snowing.  Isaac has just seen Teresa's picture in her window.  It glows blue and white from her tree decorations.  On the left, Isaac runs across the street, arms outstretched.  He shouts one of his poems which appears written in white and the words float from left to right.  They are underlined in blue with blue menorahs at the end.  Teresa stands in the doorway of her home with her family behind her.  Light from that doorway shines outside.  The supreme happiness in this moment is palpable.

Although this title, Red and Green and Blue and White (Inspired by a true story) written by Lee Wind with artwork by Paul O. Zelinsky, focuses on the holiday season, it can be read any time of the year to remind us of the power of standing up instead of standing by.  This book is a classic to be shared widely and often.  Be sure to read the author's note at the end.  I highly recommend you place a copy in both your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Lee Wind and Paul O. Zelinsky and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Lee Wind has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Paul O. Zelinsky has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  This title is featured on The Book Of Life podcast.  It is highlighted by author, reviewer, blogger and librarian Elizabeth Bird at School Library Journal, A Fuse # 8 Production and by author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  At the publisher's website, there is a coloring sheet to download, interior images to see, and three videos to watch about this book.

Every year there are children around the world who wonder if Santa Claus will be able to find them.  They know the stories about where he lives and his method of transportation.  Perhaps, they have moved or live in more than one house or have no home at all.  Santa In The City (Dial Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, November 2, 2021) written by Tiffany D. Jackson with illustrations by Reggie Brown is about a little girl with multiple worries about Santa visiting her home.

Every year, Deja counted down the days, hours, minutes, seconds until Christmas.

But some kids at school didn't believe in Santa like she did.

And truthfully, the insights of her classmates did sound reasonable, and this upset Deja.  Finding her crying in her room that night, her mother took her on a tour explaining how the magic surrounding Santa worked.  First, they journeyed to the first floor to observe their superintendent.  Then, they went all the way to the roof.  That solved the parking problem of Santa's sleigh and his reindeer.

The next morning despite her mother's reassurances, worry plagued Deja again.  Their city block was not decorated properly.  Santa might miss them.  Question after question popped into Deja's mind no matter how her mommy answered.

Her family always celebrated together on Christmas Eve.  Now, there was a whole group of people to help her solve all the pieces in her Santa worry puzzle.  Each and every reply made perfect sense to her, but the questions kept coming into her mind.

Even tucked into bed that night with mommy reading her a story, she still had things she needed to know.  Something her mother said gave her an idea.  Later, she sneaked into the living room to wait for Santa.  You'll never guess what happened.

If you are looking for an explanation of Christmas magic, look no further than the words written by Tiffany D. Jackson for this book.  The responses of the adults are creative and as Deja says:

Makes sense.

Through narrative and dialogue, the rhythm supplied by the questions, answers, and the above-noted repetitive phrase generates an enchanting atmosphere of its own.  This builds toward a most satisfying ending which surprises even Deja.  Here is a passage.

"Uncle Ronnie, how can Santa live up at the North Pole?
It's really cold up there!" Deja asked.

"Well, Santa works in tunnels underground, like
the subway, where it's much warmer.
Plus, he drinks plenty of hot cocoa."

"Oh," Deja said. Makes sense.

As you look at the open and matching dust jacket and book case, you cannot help but smile.  The shadowy cityscape on either side of Deja's apartment building frames the colored lights outlining her windows and the warmth of inside lights.  Dressed for winter, she stands on the balcony, hand outstretched to catch a falling snowflake.  We see what she cannot see.  Those red pants and black boots on the rooftop signify someone special visiting her home.  To the left of the spine, a large green bag full of presents sits on the roof.  On the back, the words read:


On the dust jacket, Deja, Santa, the title text, the words on the back, and the bag of gifts are varnished.

A pale turquoise covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Inside a circular image on the title page, between the text, is a view of Deja's desk.  It contains some winter clothing, notebooks, a list, a pencil, an eraser, and a tablet counting down the days, minutes, and seconds before Santa arrives.  It's called


Illustrator Reggie Brown made these images

digitally using photoshop, and a pinch of Christmas magic.

Bold, bright, and colorful they span two pages, and single pages.  Smaller illustrations are grouped together to depict a passage of time and enhance the pacing.  Sometimes, we are looking directly at the scene.  Other times, the perspective shifts, and we are looking at it as if we are Deja.  We are treated to wider views and close-up views.

The facial features on all the characters and their body postures make us feel as though we are walking along with them in real time.  We immediately find Deja utterly charming.  When she asks her questions, we know by looking at her they are heartfelt and express a curiosity known to many children.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  The elements are placed on a white background.  Deja and mommy are talking about the reindeer and the parking issue.  Across most of the two pages in a row, we see, starting on the left, a green vehicle, nine reindeer, and then, a red vehicle on the right.  You'll be laughing out loud looking at the reindeer.  Their faces are hilarious, as is the attire worn by some.  The one wearing the Reindeer Games Runner-Up sash is scowling.  Rudolph is lounging on the ground in front of the other eight reindeer.  He is wearing a first-place ribbon.  Deja is on the left in the foreground asking a question.  Mommy is on the right in the foreground giving her answer.

Santa In The City written by Tiffany D. Jackson with artwork by Reggie Brown is one you'll want to read right before drifting off to sleep during the Christmas holiday.  The realistic concerns of Deja and the marvelous replies of the adults paired with the lively illustrations will have listeners asking you to read it again and again and again.  This title is one you will want to include in both your personal and professional holiday collections.

By following the link attached to Tiffany D. Jackson's name and Reggie Brown's name, you can access their websites to learn more about them and their other work.  Tiffany D. Jackson has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Reggie Brown has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  This title is highlighted with an author interview at We Need Diverse Books.  You will really enjoy reading this interview.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.  There is also an audio clip of the reading of this title.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

From Wild Windy Weather

In mere seconds, a calm solstice evening, December 21, 2021, turns into one with winds gusting over thirty-five miles per hour.  The gently falling snow is now dancing across yards and shaking colored lights hanging from roof tops, porches, trees, and bushes.  Wind chimes are singing from house to house.  The brisk breeze whistles around pipes and chimneys.

Wind is both a best friend and a mortal enemy.  Two book titles this past autumn highlight the havoc it wreaks when it is at its worst.  They also disclose how something wonderful can rise from the damage like a phoenix.  Hurricane (Little, Brown and Company, September 28, 2021) written and illustrated by John Rocco asks us to see that a storm can be the impetus for using the best tools we have, our collective hearts.

This is my dock.
Really, it's the neighborhood's dock,
but nobody ever comes here except me.

This dock stretches into a river fed by the sea.  In this space, a boy swims, watches water creatures move under and around the dock, fishes, and catches crabs.  It is, as you might imagine, his favorite place.

One day as he returns home from the dock, his neighborhood is not the same.  At his house, his dad tells him a hurricane is coming.  That night, as the wind and rain batter the sides and windows of the boy's home, he worries about the river, now coming down the street, taking it away.

In the morning, all is quiet as the boy heads down to the dock.  His neighborhood is transformed.  So is his dock.  It all looks as though a fierce beast roamed at will.

When the neighbors are too busy to help him with his dock, he helps them.  He then decides to rebuild the dock himself.  One day of working on his dock leads to another day and then another day leads to another day.  When he feels as though the job is too much for one boy, something unexpected happens.  Something wonderful.  Something remembered.

We are immediately drawn into this story by author John Rocco through the first person point of view.  The boy gives us answers in his narration.  He tells us why the dock is his favorite place.  He presents us with real feelings, real situations prior to the hurricane, and an intense description of the hurricane's arrival and force.  The next morning and in the subsequent days, we willingly follow what the boy says because we understand loss, his loss and his determination to recreate his favorite place.  Here is a passage.  (This describes what many do to ease stress and uncomfortable events.)

I shut my eyes tight and try to sleep,
imagining what might wash up underneath my dock.

There are two different scenes on either side of the spine when you look at the open dust jacket.  On the front we are shown the boy, the narrator, with neighbors on either side of the shore as the hurricane approaches.  This illustration shows worry and fear at the unpredictability of weather.  The color palette reflects serenity and contentment on the back, to the left of the spine.

Here we see the boy, his back to us, walking down his dock.  The river on each side of the dock is almost like a mirror.  A seagull lands on one of the pilings to the left of the boy.  Ahead of the boy, in a blue sky, clouds puff up like cotton candy, the early morning light painting them.

On the book case is an expanded interior image.  The boy is nearly at the end of the dock lying on his stomach and looking down into the water over the left side.  An array of sea creatures are swimming toward, under, and past the dock.  These are what he imagines might be there as the hurricane rages on through the night.

The opening endpapers, in blue, white, and red, highlight the five categories of a hurricane.  A four-part diagram shows How a Hurricane Forms.  The Parts of a Dock are explained on the closing endpapers using brown, white, blue, and a bit of red.  Everything is labeled correctly and we are told how new pilings are placed into the bottom of the water.


pencil, watercolor, and digital color

John Rocco presents his illustrations in a series of horizontal panels on a single page, on two pages, edge to edge, or a combination of panels or two smaller images opposite a full-page picture.  To show the passage of time, smaller illustrations are grouped together.  Any dialogue is shown in small speech balloons.  The perspectives in each image are intimate and alternated to showcase that intimacy.  The boy's facial expressions and his body postures are realistic and enduring at the same time.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the above-noted text.  In the lower, left-hand corner, the boy, eyes closed, is tucked into his bed.  He is dreaming of his favorite dock and the beauty swimming around it.  There are turtles, dolphins, a ray, smaller fish, and one huge creature.

This up-close-and-personal look at a storm, this sensory experience by this boy, in Hurricane written and illustrated by John Rocco is memorable.  This boy and his love of his favorite place brings a community together.  It is in the heart of a child that all hearts are joined.  I highly recommend this title for both your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about John Rocco and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  John Rocco has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website there is a video discussion with John Rocco about the art for this book.

John Rocco Presents HURRICANE from LB School on Vimeo.

There is nothing quite so unsettling as having a lifelong sailor tell you it's time to put on a life jacket as you head from the Intercoastal Waterway into the Atlantic Ocean as a storm strikes.  The wind and waves toss the sailboat like a rubber ducky in a bathtub.  You realize, once again, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Hope At Sea: An Adventure Story (Anne Schwartz Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books,  October 19, 2021) written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares is a tale of wanting, wondering, storms, and the eventual return of light.

Whenever my world feels small,
I turn to the sea.

The narrator of this story, a girl, longs to go to sea with her father, a ship's carpenter.  He is about to leave on another voyage on a new clipper ship.  She is determined to sail with him this time.  She is going to stow away.

Timing is everything.  Soon, she is tucked inside one of the lifeboats as the anchor is raised.  Under the tarp in the darkness, she begins to wonder about her decision.  And then. . . she is discovered!

Her father acclimates her to life at sea.  The work is not easy, but she begins to feel comfortable doing things which need to be done.  They travel for weeks from one destination and climate to another, adding cargo to the vessel.

Words and pictures fill her journal.  This is her story.  As they near home, a horrendous storm tosses the ship from gigantic wave to gigantic wave.  She is told to stay below, but she wants to help.  Every sailor's nightmare happens.  Rocks. Thunderous cracking as wood bends and breaks to the will of Mother Nature.  Will the lifeboats endure?  

When author Daniel Miyares begins this tale, we know an adventure is in the offing as soon as we read the first sentence.  From there, the protagonist shares her longing to set sail with her father.  She wants to be a part of this next sea story.  Short but highly descriptive sentences and phrases by the narrator bring us into this experience.  It is almost like reading entries in a diary or journal, page turn by page turn.

What we don't initially know, but is cleverly presented, is the girl's name is Hope.  This gives two distinct meanings to the word as it is used in her narrative.  It also leads us to a conclusion full of light.  Here is one of several outstanding passages.

There's no turning back now.  I can hear the
sails snap to attention and salute the wind as we
pick up speed.

In looking at the open dust jacket, we are presented with the best and worst moments of this bold undertaking.  On the front, the ship heading toward us in brisk winds, sails full, you can almost feel that breeze on your face, smell the salt in the air, and feel the pounding of Hope's happy heart.  The sky, clouds, waves with crests of foam, the details of the ship, and Hope's position all signify adventure with a capital A.  

To the left, on the back, waves as high as several stories, roll and rage.  The ship under the dark stormy sky with rain falling in torrents is riding up to the top of a wave.  It is small compared to the angry water.  The text here reads:

And in such a storm,
even hands as small as
mine are needed.

The canvas for the book case is cream.  Along the top is a red and cream diamond pattern. Along the bottom are arched lines in blue symbolizing waves.  On the left side, on the back, in an oval framed by a line (rope) and anchor is a formal portrait of Hope and her parents.  (Both parents play an important part in this story.)  On the right side, the front, underneath a nautical star is a ribbon woven around an anchor.  On the ribbon is the title text.  Two birds are holding either end of this ribbon.  They are swallows which are meaningful to sailors.

Both the opening and closing endpapers request readers to pause and study what they see.  Blue lines are placed on pale gray paper.  Intricate drawings of elements of value to the beginning and middle of the story appear on the first set.  Twenty-two items are labeled.  Without divulging the end of the story, the closing endpapers include fourteen labeled things.  They are either single objects or parts of an object.  The labels are handwritten on both the opening and closing endpapers.

These illustrations 

rendered in pen and ink with watercolor

by Daniel Miyares are exquisite in their detail and emotional impact.  They place us squarely in this time and in this place.  Color choices, the use of light and shadow, will have you stopping to take in every scene.  Each image, varied in size, extends the text by telling more of the story.  We are never told when Hope will stow away, but a picture tells us she sneaks out of the house dressed in a shirt and pants and hat as her parents are saying their final goodbyes at home.

Several of the wordless pictures, like the one where Hope is peeking out from under the canvas cover on the lifeboat, will take your breath away at their depiction of moods and emotions.  We are always aware of the vastness of the sea, the power of nature, and the size of the ship.

One of my many favorite pictures is a double-page image.  Spanning across both pages, perfectly aligned in the gutter is the clipper ship; its sails closed.  On the left side of the gutter, the ship sits under a cloudy, shades of gray, sky.  Large snowflakes drift down on sailors bundled in heavy coats and hats.  An iceberg juts out of the water at the back of the ship.  A whale's tail breaks from the water, silhouetted against the iceberg.  On the right side the ship is in the tropics.  The sky is blue with large fluffy clouds, partially pink.  The sailors are wearing lighter and less attire.  One jumps into the water from the front of the ship.  Others are hauling goods up in a net from a boat below them.  A single seagull flies overhead as if to make its way toward the rocky shore, grasses and palm trees.

Each time this book, Hope At Sea: An Adventure Story written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, is read you will be uplifted by its ingenuity and conclusion.  Hope, like love, can be found in many places . . . if you are looking for it.  I can't imagine a personal or professional collection without a copy of this book.

By following the link attached to Daniel Miyares's name, you can learn more about him and his other work at his website.  Daniel Miyares has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  At the publisher's website are interior illustrations to view.  Daniel Miyares and this book are highlighted at Picture Book Builders.  You will really enjoy this.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Fowl Play

How did the chicken wake up?  It had an alarm cluck. 
What do you call a chicken crossing the road?  Poultry in motion
Why did the chicken cross the road?  To bock traffic!
Why did the turkey cross the road?  To prove he wasn't chicken!

Those four questions and answers are only a few in a multitude of fowl hilarity. Chickens and their feathered friends have long been the object of comedy routines, jokes, and tall tales.  They've even made it into the world of polka with the famous chicken dance.  Be prepared to grin, giggle, and guffaw as you enjoy this trio of titles recently released.

In two previous books, Interrupting Chicken and Interrupting Chicken And The Elephant Of Surprise, author illustrator David Ezra Stein introduces and entertains readers with the actions and conversations between a lively little red chicken and her patient papa.  In the third title, Interrupting Chicken: Cookies For Breakfast (Candlewick Press, October 26, 2021), the delightful duo take readers once more into the world of the classic written word.  There is nothing like a craving for cookies to get your morning off to an exuberant start . . . for some.

It was bright and early for the little red chicken.

Papa is not ready to wake up on a Saturday morning until little red chicken mentions breakfast in bed.  Cookies are not what he has in mind.  There will be no cookies for breakfast, but Papa reading a book aloud is the next best thing.

Little red chicken snuggles in next to her father eager for him to begin reading nursery rhymes.  Not more than one is read before she interrupts with her own version of completing There Was An Old Woman.  There might be a mention of cookies. 

Again Papa says there will be no cookies for breakfast.  You won't believe what vitamin little red chicken says are in cookies!  This scenario is repeated two more times as the reading aloud resumes.  The charming youngster inserts cookies into nursery rhymes, a proverb, and her own brand of common sense.

Papa is getting a little stressed and asks for a break.  Our clever protagonist pens and draws her own RIME.  A loud sound puts a stop to the comfy morning cuddle between this father and his daughter.  Papa has a most delicious reply to the noise.  

When we read David Ezra Stein's first sentence, we get a hint of how the morning is going to be.  The contrast between the on-fire vigor of the child and her father's desire to keep sleeping are typical and comedic.  Between their laugh-out-loud funny conversations and the nursery rhymes, most reworded by the little red chicken, an engaging cadence is created.  (I counted the mention of cookies and cookie at least twenty-five times.)  Here is a passage.

"Yes, Papa?"
"I told you, we can't have cookies so early."
"I heard the early bird gets the cookie."

"That's worm."
"Well, you can have a worm, but I'd rather have a cookie!"
Papa yawned.  "We'll have breakfast soon.
Let's just read a little longer."
"Okay!" said the little red chicken. 


watercolor, water-soluble crayon, china markers, pen, opaque white ink, and tea

the artwork of David Ezra Stein asks us to jump into the story with as much liveliness as the little red chicken does onto her father's bed.  On the open and matching dust jacket and book case, her enthusiasm is on full display.  Their humorous conversation is already beginning on the front, right side.  To the left, on the back, with the bedroom wallpaper as a canvas, we read the words of the little red chicken.

I sure like cookies a lot!

The speech balloons on the front and back are varnished.

A bright spring green covers the opening and closing endpapers.  On the informal title page, David Ezra Stein starts his pictorial interpretation.  The little red chicken is carrying a kitchen chair somewhere.  She has dropped her toy stuffed elephant.  A double-page picture spans edge to edge for the formal title page.  It is a wonderful view of the interior of the chickens' kitchen.  Our eyes move from the refrigerator across an arched doorway into another room, and then to the stove with pots and pans hanging from a rack under a hood to a window with a table and chairs, and finally to cupboards on the far right.

On the left side prior to the first single-page picture and on the right side of the final single-page picture, David Ezra Stein has placed a page using the bedroom wallpaper, green with large yellow flowers with reddish orange centers.  Throughout the book, the images range in size from smaller visuals on a single page to illustrations crossing the gutter to full-page pictures and two-page pictures.

The two-page pictures are the open book Papa is reading to little red chicken.  Included on these pages are her appearances when she interrupts and adds her own dialogue between the nursery rhyme characters.  The limited color palette of the nursery rhyme pages contrasts with excellence to the full-color illustrations of the little red chicken, her papa and their home.  The facial expressions on Papa, the little red chicken, and the nursery rhyme characters are side-splitting.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a picture which crosses the gutter.  On the left, we see Papa in bed with his little red chicken.  She is holding an open book and a pencil.  Her toy stuffed elephant is nestled with Papa on his right side.  The box of cookies is on the left side of the little red hen.  A light glows near her on a bedside table.  The bed crosses the gutter.  Taped on the foot of the bed, we are shown affectionate drawings by the little red chicken for her papa.  Her art materials are scattered on the floor near an ottoman where she was working.  

This third book, Interrupting Chicken: Cookies For Breakfast written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein, is as enchanting and funny as the previous two titles.  You can expect to hear a chorus of "read it again" every time you finish reading this either one-on-one or to a group of listeners.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about David Ezra Stein and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  David Ezra Stein has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  David Ezra Stein is interviewed at Judy Newman at Scholastic.  At the publisher's website, you can access and download a nine-page series activity kit.  At Penguin Random House, you can view many happy interior images.

According to Merriam-Webster, there are three major definitions for the word magic.  They involve a special power welded by special people, tricks, and influence or skill.  The word impossible is tied to two of these definitions.  What is not mentioned in any of these meanings is the word chicken.  Perhaps the people at Merriam-Webster need to have a chat with two creative talents, author Adam Rubin and illustrator Adam Rex.  This duo's new collaboration, Gladys The Magic Chicken (Putnam G. P. Putnam's Sons, October 26, 2021) gives a new interpretation to that word, magic.  You'll be laughing before you've even finished the first page.

a long, long, long. long, looong time ago.
Three thousand years before your grandma's
grandma's grandma was born.

In these long ago times there lived a chicken, a dancing chicken.  Gladys, the dancing chicken, was a follower.  Each day she went to the pasture with the sheep, a dog, and a shepherd.  One day, for the first time in his short life, this shepherd saw his reflection in a puddle.  He was stunned.

When Gladys comforted the boy, he wished to be beautiful.  Years passed and that boy became a strong, handsome man.  When a traveling peddler came to town, that man saw himself in a mirror.  (He had never seen a mirror.)  Again, he was stunned.  He kissed Gladys and declared her to be 

"A MAGIC, WISH-GRANTING CHICKEN." (At this point, I am laughing out loud.)

The wily peddler acquired Gladys by giving the shepherd that mirror.  Gladys went from place to place with that businessman who was offering her for sale.  She did not sell and that man made a wish.  Poof! No more Gladys.

Gladys was shocked as she moved from a cooking pot to the arms of a heroic swordsman.  From there she became a gift and the object of a hard-to-forget song.  Before this chicken, said to be magical, could really get settled at a royal palace, she found herself on the high seas with a band of pirates.  What?!

No sooner than one could think avast me hearties, Gladys landed on a deserted beach which was not really deserted because this was Gladys, after all.  A fancy, footwork frolic was observed and a wild ride caused Gladys to yield yet another of her eggs.  That brought Gladys to the best conclusion for a dancing chicken who might or might not have had special powers.  Magical, indeed.

Some of the best kinds of stories are circle stories.  Adam Rubin has written this one masterfully.  The setting he fashions, Ancient Times, allows him to play with language and historical facts.  His named cast of characters describes their occupations and sometimes their characteristics like the

Long-Bearded Bandit and the

Learned Princess.

His blend of narrative, dialogue, and authorial asides is marvelous, just like Gladys.  You will be swept away by his word choices brimming with action.  Here is a passage.


The Learned Princess shrieked as a Fearsome Pirate swung through the window, flipped through 
the air, and landed on the floor with a sword clenched in her teeth.  Gladys let an egg go ploop.

"YOU'RE COMING WITH ME." threatened the Fearsome Pirate.

"HOORAY!" squealed the Learned Princess.

HOORAY? asked the Fearsome Pirate.  . . .

You will be hard-pressed to look at the open and matching dust jacket and book case without bursting into giggles.  Gladys, in all her dancing glory, is looking a tad uncomfortable at the accolades she is receiving and at being placed on a pedestal.  Her eyes here and throughout the book convey more than words ever could.  Gladys, the flower at her feet, and the title text are varnished.

To the left of the spine, on the back, a continuation of the Ancient Times brushed golden tones acts as a canvas.  Here is a very, very, very old stone portrait of a chicken with the face of a wise man or deity.  It is placed in the upper, left-hand corner like it is holding up a roof at the top of a pillar.

There are four horizontal panels separated by black lines on the opening and closing endpapers.  In these panels Gladys is featured, symbolically, in her travels.  The drawing is precise, almost like it has been cut and stenciled.  In the opening endpapers it is black on a rich deep pink.  On the closing endpapers, the elements are repeated on metallic dark gold.  These pink and gold colors are used again in a beautiful design decision.

The title page is done in hues of pink, purple, blue and gold.  It showcases an old city with lightning coming from the cloud above it.  Gladys sits in that cloud amid the title text.

Drawn digitally, these illustrations by Adam Rex are guaranteed to have readers pausing at every page turn beginning with the map opposite the dedication and publication information page.  The map is titled


The pictures throughout are replete with details and bold, bright colors. 

Single-page images blend to the next one.  Smaller illustrations grouped two to a page accentuate pacing.  Double-page pictures are dramatic.  When the ancient language is spoken it is placed in narrow scrolls with a different font.  White space, dark space, and perspective are magic in the skilled hands of Adam Rex.

One of my many favorite pictures is a single-page illustration.  It is a dark scene in hues of blue.  We are in the dungeon of the palace of the Purple Pooh-bah.  There is stonework, stairs, and archways leading into seemingly endless hallways.  On the right side a heavy grate is placed in the floor.  From the grate stretch two narrow scrolls.  They read:


cried the Long-Bearded


Prepare to laugh yourself silly reading Gladys The Magic Chicken written by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Adam Rex.  The combination of text and artwork makes this a classic tale to be told again and again.  You might find yourself humming a tune and singing the words ending with


Make sure you have a copy on your personal and professional bookshelves.

By following the link attached to Adam Rubin's and Adam Rex's names, you can access their respective websites to learn more about them and their other work.  Adam Rubin has an account on Twitter.  He also has a more adult website here.  Adam Rex has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view some interior images.  This inventive duo are interviewed about this book at School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production, by Betsy Bird.

Chicken Literacy from Adam R on Vimeo.

When the temperature drops thirty degrees in twelve hours with wind chills in the teens, it is cold outside.  No matter how much winter wear you don, the bitter breeze finds a way to give you the shivers.  As you walk from one point to the other, sometimes in place and other times as if a giant hand is pushing you, you wonder if you will ever be warm again.  In Cold Turkey (Little, Brown and Company, November 23, 2021) written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call with illustrations by Chad Otis, this bird knows that frigid temperatures equals loads of clothes.  Will this bird survive wandering in his neighborhood?

Turkey woke up c-c-cold.
He wheezed, "It's ten degrees!

I need to b-b-bundle up
before I f-f-freeze!"

Turkey first met Sheep.  She was quivering from the effects of the storm.  Turkey gave her his hat.  Turkey was not quite as warm when he met Chick.  Her feathers and nest of hay were not helping her.  Perhaps Turkey's wing warmers would help her.

No longer standing, Horse could barely make a sound.  Cow could not even crouch to combat the wild wind.  It was a miracle Pig was not purple from the wild weather.  At each stop, Turkey relinquished an article of clothing.

Turkey was no longer bundled.  Turkey was shaking as the blizzard blasted his bare body.  He could hardly wait to get home.  

Unbeknownst to Turkey, his barnyard friends had an unexpected state in store for him.  Each one and Turkey, too, had new descriptive names.  Turkey went from warm-hearted on the inside and from cold to _____ on the outside.

Authors Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call have a knack through inventive wordplay for spinning narratives with a catchy cadence.  Their rhyming couplets for each animal followed by a two-word alliterative descriptor bring smiles to listeners.  These are an open invitation to participate in the story.  As the tale unfolds, readers see the results of a generous spirit and the warmth friendship brings.  Here is a passage.

Cow was qu-qu-quivering.
"I can't help but complain.

This wind is a cow-tastrophy!
It's udderly insane."


The crisp white background for the front and back of the open and matching dust jacket and book case with scattered snowflakes is certain to induce chills.  Even covered in clothing, Turkey is one cold bird as evidenced by the shiver marks and blowing leaves and weeds.  Notice how those weeds extend over the spine.  

To the left, on the back, Turkey and his friends are shown in a circular image.  Their cold faces all point to him in the center.  Each one of them is labeled with their alliterative names, except for Cold Turkey.

On the opening endpapers artist Chad Otis gives readers a bird's eye view of the barnyard blanketed in snow.  A dotted line indicates the path Turkey takes from friend to friend.  This view offers a hint at the conclusion.  Night has fallen on the scene on the closing endpapers.  There are still a few flakes of snow falling but it is otherwise calm.  The dotted line has been replaced with prints in the snow.  A glow on the far right reveals the toasty conclusion.

These images rendered

in pencil, scanned textures, and digital paint

convey a realistic sense of time and place.  You'll be reaching for your favorite coat, hat, and mittens before you leave with Turkey to go outside.  Evidence of the wind and snow has filtered into Turkey's home.  Brrrr . . .

As Turkey moves from animal to animal, the layering of snow on objects combined with gusts of wind, drifting flakes, and blowing leaves and twigs is highly convincing.  White is used superbly as an element contrasting with the colors of the animals, Turkey and his clothing.  Chad Otis has us initially standing back to watch the exchange between Turkey and the other five animals, but when Turkey gives away an article of clothing and the animal is given their two-word name, we are brought close to the location.  Readers will enjoy the added details and facial expression on the characters.

One of my many favorite images of all these two-page pictures is for the words


On the left side Horse's face and upper portion of his body is highlighted.  Horse is extremely cold, but now his nose is wrapped in Turkey's scarf.  Horse is holding it in place with his two foot hooves.  On the right side of the picture, Turkey is walking away, getting colder and colder.  He is wearing only two more pieces of clothing.  Head bent, he plods through the deepening snow.  To the left of him, a fence is coated in snow.  In the distance, on the right, we can see the outline of the farmhouse.

Readers will be tapping their toes and clapping their hands in time to the wondrous words penned by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call and in response to the enhancing illustrations by Chad Otis when they hear or read Cold Turkey.  This book would make a fantastic reader's theater.  You'll want to add a copy to both your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Corey Rosen Schwartz, Kirsti Call, and Chad Otis and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Corey Rosen Schwartz has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Kirsti Call has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Chad Otis has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can download an activity sheet.