Winter Animals

Winter Animals

   Snow is drifted high outside my window; birds are fluttering to and from the bird feeder; animal tracks crisscross the yard. How do they do it--how do they survive? Is it "lively adventure through a winter wonderland," as reviewer Henshon describes in her review of Kitten's Winter? A long, deep sleep, burrowed quietly away? Or something more unusual? Explore the realities in these selected books.

Contributor: Emily Griffin


Baby Penguins Everywhere!
Melissa Guion

Meet a penguin, a cute little penguin enjoying the peace and quiet of the sea and ice. Some days she feels lonely. That is, until one day she spots a hat floating in the water. From that hat pops a little baby penguin and then one more and then another and then many more. Penguins are everywhere and suddenly the penguin is not lonely anymore. Before she knows it, she has become a mama penguin, caring for cute, mischievous babies. They have a lot of fun together, but she is very, very busy and more than a bit tired. She needs time, just a minute to herself. Penguins are shown frolicking about playing tug-of-war, building a snowman, and jumping rope with scarves. The adult penguin is shown in a one-page spread, alone, exhausted, and with her eyes closed because we all need some time to be alone, although it is a lot more fun being with the little penguins in your life. An ode to family life, the author/illustrator does a wonderful job of using watercolor and pencil art to showcase simple penguins with dot eyes and orange triangular beaks; perfect for preschool and beginning readers. Thirty-two large, beautifully white illustrated pages with large, uncluttered text. Each page contains two to fourteen words and sentences are limited to one per page with a total word count of one hundred sixteen. The book jacket itself is an adorable work of art with shiny, eye-catching graphics. Mama penguins with a family or teacher penguins with a classroom of little ones will delight in sharing this cute picture book. Mom and teachers with kids will concur. This is the author's first picture book. Check out her website 2012, Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 2 to 5, $16.99. Reviewer: Suzanne Javid (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780399255359

Kitten's Winter
Eugenie Fernandes

What is it like to explore the winter landscape? To step into a snowdrift? To feel coldness in your breath? To explore a single snowflake with your eyes and paws? In this beautifully illustrated book, Kitten steps outside and discovers blowing snow, a freezing pond, a snowman, and snow heaps. With the snow blowing at his back, Kitten sees a fox, turtle, beaver, raccoon, woodpecker, rabbit, mouse, otter, fish, squirrel, bear, and chipmunk during this lively adventure. Kitten watches hibernating animals and discovers how much weather impacts the landscape. At one point a blizzard howls, and Kitten struggles to find his home. Finally the house door opens, and Kitten snuggles in love and warmth. In this lovely story, Eugene Fernandez takes young readers on a lively adventure through a winter wonderland. Kitten's Winter is a lively, active adventure that is guaranteed to charm readers of all ages, filled with vivid illustrations and memorable characters. 2011, Kids Can Press, Ages 3 to 6, $14.95. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781554533435

Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica
Jonathan London
Illustrated by Julie Olson

This warm-hearted story of animals in the chilly south starts at the moment the "Little Emperor of Antarctica" emerges from his egg. Wobbly, cold and hungry, he finds himself sitting on his father's feet. The father drips "crop milk" into the little one's mouth, and then tucks the baby under the flap of his stomach. This fills his tummy and keeps him warm for a little while. Soon, his mother returns from her three-month venture in the sea. She feeds the baby from the fish and other seafood in her belly. It's dad's turn to head to the sea for food. The penguins take turns caring for Little Penguin as he grows. He gains independence, until at about five months of age he is ready to make his own journey to the sea. He swims, pursues fish and krill, faces off with a leopard seal--and proves himself a capable young penguin. In four years, it will be his turn to care for an egg. An author's note provides additional information about emperor penguins and their life cycle. Like many other penguin-themed books, this one follows a penguin from egg to adulthood. In that way, this book is not particularly unique. But London's flowing text and Olson's watercolor illustrations draw the reader in to this young bird's story. Those who are penguin-crazy and those who are penguin-curious will enjoy this book. A good choice for sharing in the elementary classroom, this story is also brief enough to be a hit with the preschool set. 2011, Marshall Cavendish Children, Ages 4 to 8, $17.99. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761459545

North: The Story of Arctic Migration
Nick Dowson
Illustrated by Patrick Benson

To us non-Polar weaklings, the Arctic may seem uniformly inhospitable, but, as Dowson and Benson remind us, it's actually a seasonally variable region that brings a multitude of animals back in the warmer seasons in what they term "the greatest journey on earth." Quietly descriptive prose, arranged in a poetic ragged-right format, describes the seasonal transition as whales leave the warm Mexican waters to head up the Pacific coast; as the arctic terns wing their way from Antarctica; as shoals of herring, newly spawned, head north for food. The text (printed in oceanic aqua on snowy white, which reverses to white against aqua during the wintry season) has an appealing delicacy, with a touch of lyricism ("With bright scales like mirrors, [the herrings] swerve together, fin to fin"). It's the art that provides the main drama here, though: Benson's detailed illustrations in watercolor, pencil, and pen move easily from subtlety to grandeur; while the draftsmanship is softly realistic, the imagination behind them brings the natural world to vivid life. An overhead view shows boaters in a warm Mexican gulf pointing to the looming underwater shape of a gray whale, her blowhole and spine a moving island above the water level; a flock of terns tessellate like an Escher drawing against the striations of ocean below; echoing bird cries are almost audible in a scene where a craggy walrus pair in the foreground are nearly as rocky as the vertiginous crags, clustered with teeming terns, behind them. Color usage is inspired, with the slate blue and charcoal of winter brightening up slowly, spread by spread, as pale buttery light touches the tundra and brings out warmer shades. The length of the book aims it above the usual picture-book age, making it a treat for middle-graders of an ecological bent, animal fans, and youngsters who favor the visual over the textual. A concluding information section gives more information about the Arctic and provides a brief glossary and an index. 2011, Candlewick, Grades 3 to 5, $16.99. Reviewer: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2012 (Vol. 65, No. 6)).
ISBN: 9780763652715

Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter
Linda Glaser
Illustrated by Jaime Zollars

So where do insects go when it gets cold? Monarch Butterflies migrate, but many butterflies and moths, like the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, stay in their caterpillar forms and burrow under leaves or snow for a long winter's sleep. Ladybird (ladybug) beetles hide under fallen logs or leaves and hardly move. Honey bees eat the honey in their nest and huddle together for the winter. But some insects, like the Mourning Cloak Butterfly, have natural antifreeze in their bodies to keep them from freezing as they wrap themselves under the bark of trees. Praying Mantis eggs winter over in the case their mother makes for them in the fall. Other insects, such as the Common Pondhawk Dragonfly, wait for spring in the muddy bottom of a pond. Ants hibernate in their underground homes and baby Gallflies sleep in the bubbles--or galls--their mothers make for them on plant stems. Cricket eggs stay safe in the earth, but Bald-Faced Hornet eggs winter over inside their mommas who are tucked inside rotting logs. Nice illustrations and engaging text make this book a charming addition to any science library. 2012, Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing Group, Ages 6 to 9, $25.26. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761356448

Perros De Trineo/Sled Dogs
Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Sled dogs are brave dogs that work in the snow and ice. Sled dogs train from birth. They are usually Alaskan Huskies, Siberian Huskies or Alaskan malamutes-chosen because they are strong and fast. Their thick fur keeps them warm in the cold Alaskan winters and their thickly padded paws keep them from slipping on the ice. Though they are trained to pull sleds in the snow, sled dogs train all year to ensure they are ready when winter arrives. Kids are natural animal lovers and naturally love reading about them and the "Working Dogs" series teaches kids that some animals work just like humans do. The photos are so engaging kids may feel inclined to try and teach their beloved pet a few new tricks after reading about the amazing things these dogs do alongside their humans. In the meantime they will learn new words in both English and Spanish. 2012, Capstone Press/Capstone Publishing, Ages 4 to 7, $23.99. Reviewer: Mandy Cruz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781429669009

Polar Bear Cubs
Ruth Owen

Polar Bear Cubs is only one book of many from the Wild Baby Animals Series. It's an easy-to-read text with real life pictures of polar bear cubs and their mothers. Factual information is given on the life of a polar bear cub from the day they are born to the day they leave the den. At the end, it has a glossary of vocabulary words presented throughout the book that could be used for review, an index, and other polar bear resources online. This book is recommended for use on animal research projects for lower grades or lower level readers. Category: Non-Fiction. 2011, Bearport Publishing, Ages 5 to 8, $19.96. Reviewer: Jennifer Miller (Kutztown University Book Review, Fall 2012).
ISBN: 9781617721571

Puffling Patrol
Ted Lewin and Betsy Lewin

Puffling Patrol is a children's picture book about attempts to rescue and protect Atlantic Puffins on the Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland. A pair of children and their father join the Puffling Patrol, which searches for pufflings (young puffins) who have gotten lost in their efforts to reach the sea, with the goal of transporting and releasing any healthy young birds that they find. Warm, photogenic color illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful story based on true-life human efforts. Written at a reading level ideal for children who are almost ready for chapter books, Puffling Patrol is also excellent for parents to read aloud to children in order to teach them more about the challenges that animals face as they struggle to survive in a world dominated by humans. Highly recommended, especially for school and public library children's collections. 2012, Lee & Low Books, Ages 6 to 10, $19.95. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, July 2012).
ISBN: 9781600604249

Saving Wildlife: Polar Animals
Sonya Newland

Saving Wildlife: Polar Animals is an informational guide that explains, in detail, the polar habitats and the animals that live there. This well-researched nonfiction book is broken into manageable segments. There is a two-spread map of the world that shows where these habitats exist. "The polar regions surround the North and South poles at the very top and bottom of our planet. These frozen areas are the harshest environments on Earth and yet animals grow and thrive there." Beautiful photographs bring the animals that live there up close. These animals include the polar bear, the brown bear, wolves, and foxes. There are herds of caribou and Musk Ox. "At the beginning of the twentieth century, musk ox were nearly extinct." There are small mammals like the wolverine and lemmings. During the short summer months, bees help pollinate the flowers in the tundra region. "Penguins have adapted to their icy habitat...their feathers are short and tightly packed, they have a thick layer of fat that extends right down their legs to protect them from the cold." This is a very good resource for those just beginning to understand and research endangered animals. There is a section in the back "What Can We Do?" that includes organizations that are helping and where to contact them on the Internet. There is also a detailed glossary. 2011, Black Rabbit Books, Ages 9 to 11, $28.50. Reviewer: Jodell Sadler (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781599206591

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons
Il Sung Na

In this delightfully simple concept book about the seasons of winter and spring, the reader follows a rabbit through the wintery landscape as he observes the way various animals spend the season. Appearing in every illustration, the rabbit sees ducks flying to warmer climates, bears hibernating in their dens, turtles migrating to warmer waters, sheep staying warm in their woolly coats, squirrels busily gathering food, deer loping away to find their food elsewhere, alligators lying still in the water and mice scurrying around in their holes. There are many opportunities to practice concepts here: young readers can be prompted to find the rabbit, name the types of animals, count the animals in each scene and describe what the animals are doing. Bright, whimsical, batik-patterned illustrations enliven the story. In the end, some of the animals make a second appearance to usher in spring, along with the flower-bedecked rabbit, bringing the story to a satisfying and hopeful close. 2011 (orig. 2010), Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, Ages 4 to 8, $15.99. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375867866

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South
Adam Rubin
Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Silliness prevails in this book, the third in the "Those Darn Squirrels" series. Grumpy Old Man Fookwire loves the birds, but finds the squirrels to be just plain annoying. When fall comes, Fookwire is saddened by the upcoming departure of the birds. The squirrels, however, are extra-busy. They have decided to pass on another winter filled with knitting and ping pong in favor of a winter vacation. They want to check out where the birds go every winter, so they build a series of flying machines to get themselves there. When the first frost arrives, the birds, followed by the squirrels, head south. The squirrels have a great time on the beach, but when they see a bird that reminds them of Old Man Fookwire, they give him a call. Fookwire decides to join the birds and squirrels and packs up the car for the trip. Once he arrives at the beach, Fookwire spends his time painting in the hot sun. When the sun is too much for him the squirrels help Fookwire. Later, Fookwire and the squirrels climb into Fookwire's car for the trip back. The fun language, clever squirrels, grumpy protagonist, and hilarious illustrations will bring on a major case of the giggles in fans of the series as well as in newcomers. 2012, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780547078238

Who Needs an Iceberg? An Arctic Ecosystem
Karen Patkau

This picture book introduction of life in the arctic is part of the "Ecosystem Series." The images are stunning and the text is clear. Patkau first welcomes us to the Arctic, then defines an iceberg, explains what tundra is, and introduces some of the animals. Most of the topics are addressed in a two-page spread. For the section labeled Living in the Arctic, she writes: "On land and in the sea, communities of living things connect with each other and their surroundings. The Arctic is an enormous ecosystem." The adjacent picture shows a lovely lion's mane sea jelly, as well as other, sea creatures. Patkau's book includes warnings that the Arctic ecosystem is in danger, and what that danger will mean for some of the animals that live there. She manages a good balance between artful illustration and a few "educational" designs--showing bacteria up close and the roots of plants. Students who love animals will enjoy finding the many creatures in her paintings. This is a good introduction to ecosystems and ecology. Backmatter includes a brief introduction to individual plants and animals, a glossary and an index. 2012, Tundra Books, Ages 6 to 8, $17.95. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780887769931

Winter Pony
Iain Lawrence

Iain Lawrence's THE WINTER PONY tells of a wild pony captured by men and chosen to be one of twenty ponies to accompany Englishman Robert Falcon Scott on his quest to become the first to reach the South Pole. As the expedition races for the pole the pony finds himself involved in a race for not only the pole, but for his life. A fine story evolves for fans of horses and historical fiction alike. 2011, Delacorte Press, Ages 12 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, April 2012).
ISBN: 9780385733779

Updated 01/01/13

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