by Bob Minzesheimer)
To kids, snow means school-free snow days, snowball fights and snow angels. USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer, a former kid, recommends four new picture books to warm the imaginations of youngsters.
Baby Penguins Love Their Mama!
By Melissa Guion, Philomel, 32 pp., ages 3 to 5
Who knew that baby penguins have such a busy schedule? They do in Melissa Guion's valentine of a picture book about maternal love in a cold climate. Mama teaches her babies (I count 19 of them!) home-school lessons in swimming, sliding and waddling. "Waddling was harder than it looked." Plus instructions in squawking, fishing and preening. "Everybody liked Saturday squawking," but "nobody liked preening." Guion's simple watercolors are delightful, as is the gentle surprise for Mama at the end.
Winter Is for Snow
By Robert Neubecker
Disney Hyperion, 32 pp., ages 3 to 5
A big brother and his little sister, who live in a big city, run hot and cold about winter in Robert Neubecker's ode to chilly outdoor fun. The boy loves sledding and snowball fights. The girl, shown with a hand-held electronic device going "beep, beep," prefers to stay warm and dry. "I'd rather watch a show," she says. But after her brother puts on an outdoor show, which imagines glaciers, polar bears and penguins, she decides that "winter might not be so bad" – especially when followed by mom's hot chocolate.
By Jonathan Bean
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 32 pp., ages 3 to 6
A restless brown-skinned boy in a small town asks his mom, "when will it snow?" He's not interested in flurries. He wants snow, as he puts it, "that's taller than the grass." Household chores, which he manages to mess up, only remind him of snow. He dreams of a "big snow … a very big snow." It eventually falls first in a scary dream and then in reassuring real life. Jonathan Bean's realistic watercolors are highlighted by five two-page spreads that capture the town before, during and after the big snow that covers everything, "white and cold."
Written by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Random House, 32 pp., ages 3 to 7
Illustrator Steven Kellogg is a former resident of Newtown, Conn., the community forever linked with the 2012 school shooting. Grownups should recognize what's behind his colorful and gentle celebration of seasonal renewal. With simple poetic text by Patricia MacLachlan, the book pictures how snowflakes, snowmen and fields of snow angels all inevitably melt in the spring, when flowers bloom. It notes: "The children remember the snowflakes. And we remember the children – No two the same – All beautiful."