with Jessica Rose
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
This time of year — late February and most of March — we often get too confident, thinking the worst of winter is behind us. Chances are, winter still has some fight, and freezing temperatures, snow, and the dreariness of winter are still ahead. To help you and your family get through the final weeks before spring, we’ve compiled a list of books for young people that celebrate winter or exude warmth.
The Hockey Song
Written by Stompin’ Tom Connors
Illustrated by Gary Clement
Greystone Books, 2016
It’s impossible to read the first line of The Hockey Song, a picture book version of the famous Stompin’ Tom Connors classic, without hearing Connors’ famous twang. “Oh, the good ol’ hockey game is the best game you can name!” begins the colourful book, introducing a new generation of Canadians to this kitschy piece of Canadiana. Accompanied by colourful illustrations by award-winning artist Gary Clement, The Hockey Song takes readers to a city rink where male and female players of varying ages and races come together to play “Canada’s game.” The result is a tribute to not only hockey, but also to Stompin’ Tom Connors, one of the most beloved songwriters and performers in Canadian history.
Almost a Full Moon
Written by Hawksley Workman
Illustrated by Jensine Eckwall
Tundra Books, 2016
Based on lyrics from his 2001 album of the same name, Almost a Full Moon is the first book by acclaimed musician Hawksley Workman. It brings readers inside a cozy cabin where a boy and his grandmother host a gathering for family and friends in the middle of winter. A seemingly bottomless pot of soup unites visitors from near and far, and music and chatter quickly fill the room. Jensine Eckwall’s enchanting illustrations make readers feel as though they’ve earned a place at the table. A heartwarming and timeless tale, Almost a Full Moon is delightful from start to finish.
Bear’s Winter Party
Written by Deborah Hodge
Illustrated by Lisa Cinar
Groundwood Books, 2016
When Bear, the furry protagonist of Bear’s Winter Party, plans a celebration for all the other forest animals, he does what most of us would do if planning a party: he sends invitations, cleans and decorates his home, and cooks some delicious food. However, planning a party when you’re a bear isn’t quite so easy. Bear is feared by the other animals in the forest, and they’re apprehensive about attending. In this charming story by Deborah Hodge, Bear begins to lose hope when his guests fail to arrive on time, but soon he sees them peeking at him from the forest. Bear’s Winter Party is above all a book about animals coming together, despite their differences. It also includes a recipe for making Bear’s Honey Ginger Cookies, a perfect pre- or post-reading activity.
Wade's Wiggly Antlers
Written by Louise Bradford
Illustrated by Christine Battuz
Kids Can Press, 2017
Losing one’s teeth is an important rite of passage in any young person’s life, but can you imagine losing a pair of antlers? Wade notices his antlers have begun to wiggle while playing with his friends on a wintery day, and the thought of losing them causes him distress. He uses his antlers for so many things. How will he ever play without them? Wade’s Wiggly Antlers is a humourous look at how bodies change, whether you’re a human or a member of the animal kingdom. Bradford’s careful prose will help teachers and parents teach empathy through the guise of a highly entertaining and energetic read.
Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones
Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Ashley Barron
OwlKids Books Inc., 2017
There are many ways to stay warm, whether you’re curled in bed with a good book or sitting around a fire. For little ones around the world, one of the greatest comforts is being carried by a parent. In Susan Hughes’ new book, Up! How Families Around the World Carry Little Ones, she explores the many ways children are carried around the world, “in slings, on shoulders, in backpacks, on hips, in baskets, and in loving arms.” Up! takes readers around the world, bringing them from northern Canada to West Africa, and eight other places in between. Toronto-based illustrator Ashley Barron skillfully uses cut-paper collage art to accelerate the sense of warmth evident on every page.
Fate of Flames
Written by Sarah Raughley
Simon and Schuster, 2016
Readers of young adult fiction of all ages will love the non-stop energy and fast-paced dialogue of Fate of Flames, the first book in the Effigies series. Written by local author Sarah Raughley, Fate of Flames is one of those books you can binge read under blankets on a cold winter’s day. It centres on four girls with the power to control the elements who are tasked with the job of saving the world from Phantoms, “massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness.” Brimming with fearless and fierce female protagonists, Fate of Flames excels in its engaging prose and carefully crafted characters that exude depth and personality.