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When the weather outside is frightful…

A little imagination can go a long way towards alleviating snow-day cabin fever. These wintry picture books celebrate thinking outside the box (or, in one case, thinking a box into outer space), making them perfect companions to preschoolers’ indoor imaginative play.

In their third outing, Chirri & Chirra: The Snowy Day, Kaya Doi’s rosy-cheeked (and, this time, bundled-up) cyclists journey through a winter landscape to a magical realm of friendly animals. They are welcomed in to a great hall of ice where foxes read picture books, rabbits play cards, cats knit, and deer skate. With its serene mood, pastel colors, and soft-edged line, this book could easily be twee; what gives it energy are specific, often surprising details in both text and pictures. (Enchanted Lion, 2–5 years)

In Suzy Lee’s wordless book Lines, fluid pencil work conveys a solitary figure skater’s elegant and increasingly elaborate routine. When the skater flubs a landing, the story comes to an abrupt halt. The perspective then zooms outward—revealing the skater’s ice to be an artist’s blank page. We next see the result of the artist’s frustration (a crumpled paper); however, this mistake seems to open the creative floodgates. Lee contrasts the lighthearted joys of skating with friends with the rarified heights granted by the solitary pursuit of one’s art. (Chronicle, 2–5 years)

Snow Scene, written by Richard Jackson, poses short questions with answers provided by turning the page. Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s illustrations hint at what is to come, and the rhyming text sets up patterns to help with those predictions: “What are these?” / “Trees. And those?” / “Shadows. Of crows.” Two children appear throughout, first in a winter forest of birch trees, then amid rolling hills as the seasons change; the paintings form one long panorama spanning not just space but time. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2–5 years)

Niko, dog Tag, and toy robot Radar star in Space Boy and the Snow Monster, their third imaginary interplanetary adventure. The fearsome Snow Monster from Planet Ice (a.k.a. Niko’s sister, Posh) takes Radar captive, so Niko and Tag blast off from Planet Home in their (cardboard-box) spaceship to rescue their copilot pal. Dian Curtis Regan’s text is energetic and very funny, and Robert Neubecker’s lively digital illustrations strike the right balance between what’s actually happening and what is pretend play. (Boyds Mills, 4–7 years)

From the February 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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