Friday, November 27, 2009

Waiting for Winter

It’s the end of November. The snow tires are on the car, my waterproof boots have been unearthed from the depths of the hall cupboard, and there is a new warm coat hanging there begging to be worn. Now, I’m just waiting for winter to begin...

Perhaps it is the unseasonably warm weather that made the picture book Waiting For Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser to strike such a chord with me this year, but I suspect that I still would have found it charming had we had a blizzard in October!
The story stars Squirrel, who is told by Deer that winter is on the way, along with snow, ‘white and wet and cold and soft’. Squirrel, who typically sleeps through winter, has never seen snow and is determined this year to see it for the first time. But waiting for snow is rather boring he finds, as he keeps nodding off. He tries exercising to try to help stay awake, then singing sea shanties. In the process, Squirrel disturbs several other hibernating animals, Hedgehog and the delightfully rumpled Bear, who both know they will get no peace unless they help in the watch for snow. The threesome humorously mistake several items for snow, including a sock, before the real stuff starts to fall: ‘Winter will be wonderful! (But the snow is a little smelly.)’ It is a great winter read aloud for storytime.

The illustrations are delightful: mainly pencil sketches with muted colours of brown and green at first, then lovely blue painted backgrounds are introduced in the final pages as the snow falls and the animals work together to build a snowman. The text is very simple, with lots of pages of just illustrations to help the story progress. Meschenmoser does a fantastic job of capturing the animals’ personalities in the artwork- if you can get through this one without laughing out loud, I’d be very surprised!

Originally published in Germany in 2007, this book has been published in North America by Kane Miller, who are well known for introducing readers to quality children’s books from around the world. It has received a starred review from both Kirkus & Publishers' Weekly, and was recently named one of the New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing for 2009.

So, Winter, what are you waiting for? I want to build a snowman too!

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