Due to new books coming out for the holiday season, picture books are coming at us from all sides! And several are quaint, sweet, old fashioned with modern twists, stories. Two of those sweet ones are A Thing Called Snow and Before We Sleep. My first thought about both were: sweet stories. My second thought: Dang these are some awesome illustrations. My final thought: Um… sorry a fox and rabbit and a fox and a mouse are not going to be “safe friends” so why do they keep doing that?
Still, I went away from Yuval Zommer’s A Thing Called Snow thinking, “Just accept the impossible and enjoy the book”. This delightful story about two young mammals and their need to play all the time but knowing something is up as the fox can smell change, is cozy. They learn that Snow is coming, and it will change things. The two friends then go on a quest to find the snow. They learn it is white and cold and fluffy. But of course, they mistake things around them that only fit part of the bill. The ending is obvious, but still enduring. It is the simple, cartoon illustrations that animate the story. Basic, but bold and colorful colors pop off the page. The creatures of the story are nice. There is nothing “OMG THIS IS FAR OUT”, but they were, “Those are awesome. I am happy “reading” them along with the text.” The two elements complement each other allowing for this story to have a classical feeling but have it solid in a modern mentality.
Before We Sleep is equally delightful but has a somber tone as well. Giorgio Volpe created a story of a fox and a dormouse that are friends. However, it is time for the dormouse to hibernate and the two will be separated. And of course, the red fox does not wish to lose his friend. The sweet, little gray dormouse reassures their friend that when the time is right, they will be back. The idea of “things will be normal again soon” and sometimes “goodbye” or in this case, goodnight, is not forever. The illustrations of Paolo Proietti were what kept me reading. The colors are soft, but not diluted. They had the detail needed and the dormouse sitting eating the strawberry was a treat and a half. The artwork, like Zommer’s book, made me happy to read this nice book with these awesome illustrations. (Angus Yuen-Killick was the translator of this picture book).
And while all ages can be the listener to these books, the lack of traditional action might