Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Can't All Agree

One of the perks of shopping in the same bookstore on a very regular basis is getting to know the book experts who work there. Early this week I was in Nicola's, my favorite hangout for good books and great experts, when their buyer of children's books offered to show me some of her new favorites. She has never steered me wrong yet so I was eager to see what she had to suggest.

We looked at some novels for older readers and talked about some that we had both read and enjoyed. Then she lead me to the display of picture books and pointed out Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser who wrote and illustrated this book which was first published in Germany.

The illustrations drew me in with their energy. At first they seem almost unfinished, like sketches waiting to be completed. However, as the story progresses the illustrations take on more life and the personalities of the characters shine through. By the end of the book, when winter finally comes, color appears and the pictures glisten with the joy and excitement of the new fallen snow.

This story of a squirrel who has never seen snow but now feels compelled to wait for its arrival is perfect for reading aloud or enjoying alone at any age, though it is written for kindergarten through grade three. Squirrel garners the help of his friends hedgehog and bear who find things that almost match deer's description of winter. A toothbrush is "white, wet, and cold". While hedgehog seems to think that a sky full of falling toothbrushes is reason for ecstasy, the reader will see the humor in the two page illustration of this imagined version of winter. Similarly tin cans and socks come close to snow, but not quite. Then a first flake is spotted on bear's nose. Awe and joy fill the final pages of the story. Be sure to look inside the back cover for the final twist to this story of friendship, patience, and the joy of winter.

Since I loved this book and the buyer at Nicola's loved this book, why did I title this post "We Can't All Agree". In my excitement I showed this book to my husband. He laughed, not at the book but at me. He thinks the story is odd and rather pointless; the illustrations are definitely not his cup of tea. I should point out that he is an engineer who likes to think in an orderly way. I don't know if he thought like a five year old when he was five. He certainly doesn't now.

Take a look at this book and let me know if I am the one who is right or if my husband is.

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