Once Upon a Winter Day – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Title: Once Upon a Winter Day

Author & Illustrator: Liza Woodruff

Publisher: Holiday House, 2020

Ages: 3-6

Format/Genre: fiction

Themes: animal tracks, winter, stories, creative play, search-and-find


Milo was looking for a story but his mother was busy. “Why don’t you go play in the snow?” she asked.


Milo learns that nature is full of stories to tell when he follows a mouse’s tracks in a wintery wood. t’s a fun read-aloud that shares details about animal behavior from a child’s perspective. Milo grudgingly heads outside and is quickly distracted by clues found in the snow everywhere. Each time he find a new track, feather, hole, or some other unusual clue in the snow, he wonders what happened there. After each new discovery, there’s a wordless page spread showing the reader what occurred in that spot before Milo arrived. Once Milo has already happened upon a number of mysteries, he hears his mom calling him back and he heads home. As they sit at the table to eat a yummy soup, his mom asks him if he’d like her read him some stories after dinner. But he says that he now has stories to tell HER.

Why I like this book:

When I snowshoe, I adore looking for animal tracks and wondering about the stories behind them, and readers of Milo’s tracking will be intrigued too. They will love looking on the pages for the deer mouse with the berry in its mouth and hold their breath in anticipation as the boy tracks it to a Hawk’s wings imprint in the snow. Cool that the bird is a cedar waxwing. The full page spreads revealing the animals are large and colorful. A great story to encourage outdoor exploration and not missing the small details in life.


End Pages

Great book for grades K-1 units on winter, animal tracks and how animals live within an ecosystem of the northeastern US (I know Liza lives in beautiful Vermont). Or it could be used to prompt kids to ask them what they think happened.

If it is snowy, take the kids outside on a winter walk in the woods to look for tracks and treasure.

I would pair this with Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Snow

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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2 Responses to Once Upon a Winter Day – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. What an uplifting winter tale of exploration and discovery. It brought back my memories of tracking animal foot prints in the snow, following a frozen creek and just being in outdoors. Kids will just love this book! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Don’t know if my other comment took. I made an error in my name. This is such an uplifting book that will encourage kids to want to explore the outdoors. I remember how much I loved tracking animal prints in the snow and trying to guess their owners and what they were doing. We had a large yard, a big field behind us that butted up to a creek. What fun it was exploring the frozen creek and searching for animal clues. Kids will love this story.

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