Snow – Written and Illustrated by Uri Schulevitz Farrer Strauss and Giroux, 1998 In this simple story, a boy and his dog experience the first snowfall of the year in a busy, small town. Just as the snow begins to fall one flake at a time, the boy gets excited and begins to tell all the people he sees. No one believes that it is really snowing. Of course the snow doesn’t listen to everyone’s doubts, nor to the radio, nor to the television. As the story develops, so does the landscape of the city from dreary gray to a magical place layered with white snow. The illustrations in this book really make the story come alive. I don’t know if it is intentional, but they are very Russian to me. Small details such as the oversized radio, the scale of the cars compared to people and the small dot of white snow on the page keep the simple story interesting. Schulevitz has the illustrative talent to be able to have a page with hundreds of tiny snowflakes look as though each flake is unique. I found the transformation of familiar Mother Goose characters from still statues to dancing friends slightly strange, but not obtrusive. This book has some of the wonder of Ezra Jack Keat’s Snowy Day. There’s so much in this short concept book about snow. There’s counting (there was one snowflake; there were two snowflakes), colors (gray sky becomes white sky) and there’s rhyme and repetition! This book is appropriate for ages 3-5 and would be a great addition to a unit on weather. No surprise that this was a Caldecott Honor Book! Christmas Makes Me Think – Written by Tony Medina, Illustrated by Chandra Cox Lee and Low Books, 2001 All three books I have selected today have great classroom potential. This one would fit very well under a “green” theme or unit on “sustainability”. There are not enough books of color that have a strong focus on the environment and ecology. This one is very welcome. In this unusual Christmas story, a young boy is thrilled that his favorite holiday is coming, and he looks forward to the presents, a great big tree, and baking a chocolate cake with his grandmother. But soon he starts to wonder: What happens to all the trees that get cut down? And what about all the people “who don’t have a place to live or food to eat or presents in a stocking?” One sees his attitude subtly shift as he starts to think maybe he should give his extra presents to kids who don’t have any, and give homeless people hats, gloves, and scarves. “Christmas makes me think about others and not just me!” He realizes he can really make a difference, and his thoughtfulness leads to a wonderful celebration for his whole community. Chandra Cox has illustrated the story with bright and bold, mixed-media art, with a very urban feel to it. Through these times of economic troubles, global warming and civil unrest, Christmas should make all of us think!!! This book is suitable for ages 3-8. There is also a great teacher’s guide as well as a page of resources at the back of the book for children and families who want to get more involved in their community during Christmas, or indeed anytime. Light the Lights – A Story about Hanukkah & Christmas by Margaret Moorman Scholastic, 1994 An important, simple story of a little girl in a family where one parent is a Jew and one a Christian, and how they combine the rituals of both faiths during this season. The story line isn’t super strong, but really focuses on the shared traditions of the two faiths during Hanukah and Christmas. Light and fellowship are the two foci. When winter approaches, and all grows dark, Emma knows it will soon be time to take out the family menorah with her father, and decorate the Christmas tree with lights and baubles, with her mother. The illustrations have a very traditional, heartwarming, harmonious feel about them. This book emphasizes the warmth and sense of community evoked by both Hanukkah and Christmas and is a good book for helping children start a discussion about interfaith families and communities. Suitable for ages 5 – 8. Books # 116-118 in There’s a Books Read to Me Picture Book Challenge.