Winter brings lots of cold weather, snow and books about this season. The first four books are good for ages 9 and up. The rest are picture books and are good for all ages.
The Wolf Princess, by Cathryn Constable, is about a girl, Sophie, who lives in a poor orphanage but gets the chance to go to St. Petersburg. In the northern Russian woods she comes upon a princess and ends up staying in an old winter palace. The princess has lost her valuable diamonds and Sophie helps her try to solve this mystery. The story is filled with snow, white wolves and descriptive language that fill the adventure with an icy chill. There’s even a glossary for the Russian vocabulary that is found sprinkled throughout. This book is best suited for ages ten to thirteen.
Lara’s Gift, by Annemarie O’Brien, is another story with the setting in Russia. It takes place on a count’s estate in imperial Russia where Lara helps her father breed, care and train borzoi dogs. When her brother is born she realizes that her father will now pass this position of dog care on to her brother and that she must now marry. But through her extraordinary talent and relationship with these dogs she is able to help save a runt of the liter who ends up helping rid the estate of wolf danger. Be sure to read the inspiration for the story, which is found in the Author’s notes, and the glossary of Russian terms found in the back of the book.
Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson, is a gripping story about survival in the freezing Alaskan bush. Fourteen-year-old Victoria is an expert musher but loses her way in a sudden snowstorm. As the weather worsens, and the temperature drops to a most dangerous level, she must fight the elements, make shelters and snare animals to survive. Fortunately she wasn’t alone in this wilderness. You’d better find a warm place before reading this page turner!
The 39 Clues: Unstoppable Book 2, Breakaway, by Jeff Hirsch, takes Dan and Amy on an exciting mission from some of the hottest areas in the world to the frozen Arctic Circle. Each of these books in this series has a different set of mysteries and adventures. It’s not necessary to read previous books to enjoy this one, but once you read one of “The 39 Clues”, you’ll want to read them all.
Brimsby’s Hats, by Andrew Prahin, is a sweet picture book about friendship and kindness. Brimsby is a hat maker and when his friend heads off for adventure at sea, Brimsby is now all alone. He sets out in the deep snow looking for friends. What he finds, and how he helps these potential new friends, will keep your little ones rereading this book again and again. The digitally painted pictures are soft and are rendered in hues of blues and pastels making them the perfect fit for this delightful story.
Cub’s Big World, by Sarah L. Thomson, and beautifully painted with acrylic and oil by Joe Cepeda, takes Cub, a baby polar bear, outside into the Arctic world where he discovers many adventures and sights to behold. The text is large and easy for youngsters to follow and grasp. The display of affection and love from mom is evident throughout.
The Snow Queen, a re-telling of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, with illustrations by award-winner Bagram Ibatoulline, is actually the story that the new Disney movie is based on. The struggle between good and evil prevails throughout the storyline. Unfortunately, Andersen’s Christianity references have been deleted in this picture book. But the luscious paintings by Ibatoulline are breathtaking and fill the complete spread of every page. The story captures the essence of the original fairy tale and has the drama of good finally prevailing over evil.
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, by Jan Brett, is a unique take on the traditional Cinderella story. The setting is a wintery, snowy Russia where Cinders is picked on by the rest of the hens. But when magic happens and she is able to go to the ball looking radiant, Prince Cockerel is swept away. Ms. Brett continues with her intricate trade-mark picture borders around each page which add to the story. The illustrations are gorgeous and painted with watercolor and gouache. Each full spread is rich with detail that moves the story along making this book a treasure.
Red Knit Cap Girl To The Rescue, by Naoko Stoop, is another adventure from the successful first book: “Red Knit Cap Girl”. Red Knit Cap Girl is creating artwork from newspaper when she spots something wrong at sea. A baby polar bear needs help getting back to his homeland of ice and snow where his Mama awaits. And so the rescue begins. The paintings are rich with a palate of blues, yellows and reds by using an unusual technique of acrylic, ink and pencil on plywood.
Just Ducks!, by Nicola Davies, and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino, follows the life of ducks by using the daily activities of a young girl. Included on every page are more facts about aquatic birds. As the youngster notices and watches these ducks on the river that runs through the town, she learns many aspects about them that includes their feathers, how they swim and what they eat. The mixed-media paintings reflect their habitat of browns and greens. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about these fine feathered friends.