The next best thing to tromping around outdoors on a crisp January afternoon is snuggling up inside. Here are five winter-themed picture books that are just the ticket for those sub-zero days.
In Keith Baker’s No Two Alike, two little red birds explore a snowy landscape. Rhyming text coaxes readers to look carefully at the illustrations and to notice variation in the pictures — and, by extension, in the natural world: “No two snowflakes are alike, / almost, almost . . . / but not quite.” At the end of the book, children will want to go back and view each picture again looking for similarities and differences. (2–5 years)
“Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest animals stay safe and warm,” a grownup tells a child while cross-country skiing in Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner. They see a squirrel, a mouse, and other small creatures slip into warm crevasses just below the snow while aboveground a horned owl, a red fox, and a hare wait patiently for signs of dinner. Block-print-looking illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal contrast the cool tones of winter with the forest creatures’ warmth. (3–6 years)
Perfect Snow by Barbara Reid follows two boys as they celebrate a big snowfall. Small, delicately drawn comic panels in ink and watercolor help move the action along, as the smaller boy struggles to build a snowman while the bigger boy tries to build a fort; the two end up combining forces to create “The World’s Greatest Totally Massive Snowman Fort!” Reid captures their exuberance; her Plasticine illustrations alongside the comic panels make it all look real. (4–8 years)
The star of Mac Barnett’s Extra Yarn finds a box containing yarn of every color. Young Annabelle knits herself a sweater, then she makes one for her dog. Soon she’s knit colorful garments for everyone in her snowy, dreary town. An archduke steals her box of never-ending yarn, but the magic doesn’t work for him — and all ends well with the town colorful and happy. Jon Klassen’s digitally created illustrations help bring Barnett’s clever yarn full circle. (4–8 years)