It’s hard to believe that it will not only be a green Christmas this year, but possibly one of the warmest on records. And while it may be too soon to tell what January and February will bring, it doesn’t exactly put us in the seasonal mindset. If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit –or are secretly hankering for a dusting of snow (don’t worry, we won’t tell)–two new picture books will surely satisfy your fix this season. The Tea Party in the Woods is a tender, unsuspecting story of a girl who sets out to deliver a pie to her grandmother. But before you think you’ve heard this one before, you can stop yourself right there. The lush watercolor imagery of this seemingly simple tale carries readers along on an adventure of the imagination that is as captivating as it mesmerizing. Charcoal renderings give way to pops of color as Kikko wanders further into the woods and comes upon a talking lamb who invites her to join a tea party. As the young girl is literally taken by the hand and guided indoors, a fascinating world of merrymaking awaits her, complete with music, gifts, food and a celebration that is like no other. The party doesn’t end, as Kikko eventually makes her way to her grandmother’s, with new friends in tow. The Tea Party in the Woods reminds us that imagination is a powerful thing, especially during this magical time of year. Speaking of magical thinking, the delightful Toys Meet Snow investigates what happens after a trio of playthings left behind during winter vacation decide to venture outside. Readers may see shades of themselves in the different personalities of these toys: the inquisitive Lumpy, dreamy StingRay and practical Plastic. Much like children themselves, each character lends a unique perspective to what they see and believe to be true. The result is a refreshing view of the world and the marvels we sometimes fail to take note of. The beauty of Toys Meet Snow lies not only in the luminous illustrations of freshly fallen snow seen through innocent eyes, but in the colorful language that delivers a story so heartwarming, it’s sure to melt the snow for good. When StingRay describes a sunset as “strawberry syrup pouring over the world to make it sweet before nightfall,” the message of peace and goodwill rings loud and clear…without having to say a word at all.
In a Nutshell: The perfect antidote to global warming, these cold weather picture books are exactly what we need to keep us smiling all season long.