Cold hands, warm books

snowyThe cold weather has finally arrived, which means it’s time to curl up under a blanket and enjoy being inside with a book while the wind howls outside. The classic winter picture book to share with a little one is The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats. His strong, simple collage art really captures a child’s joy at waking up to a world blanketed in snow.

In books for older children, classic English fantasy writers seem especially fond of winter settings: think of The Dark is Rising, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The winters they write about are definitely not prairie ones, though.  As a child I remember worrying about the Pevensey children headed across Narnia without proper clothing. Sure, they borrowed fur coats from the wardrobe, but apparently they weren’t worried about frostbite on their bare hands & faces…

If you prefer non-fiction, Iceman is a fascinating story of the discovery of the world’s oldest naturally preserved human body — 5000 years old — in a melting Alpine glacier. The bundle of personal effects found with “Ötzi,” as he’s been nicknamed, gave archaeologists an incredibly detailed glimpse at how prehistoric peoples used technology to cope with winter weather.

If it’s Canadian content you’re looking for, last year’s CBC Massey Lectures given by Adam Gopnik have now been published as Winter: five windows on the season. The New Yorker staff writer takes a look at winter through five themes: Romantic, Radical, Recuperative, Recreational,  and Remembering.

childBut I think my next winter read will be The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. “Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees…”

What’s your favourite chilly read?


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