The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Chilly Books for the Winter Reader - December 2013

Selected and annotated by Alice Mitchell

Books with snowy landscapes, mountainous settings, and cold temperatures that are sure to make you grab your sled or shiver through the season inside with hot chocolate.


Aylesworth, Jim. The Mitten. Illus. by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic, 2009. 4-7 yrs.
On a cold winter day, a young boy loses his red mitten. While he is warming up by the fire with his grandmother’s cocoa, various animals seek out his mitten as a refuge from the cold. As more and more animals huddle in the mitten for warmth, it bursts, sending them flying and leaving small bits of red yarn across the landscape for the boy and his grandmother to find.

Bean, Jonathan. Big Snow. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013. 32p. 4-8 yrs.
David helps his Mom out around the house while waiting for the snow to come, and everything seems to remind him of snow! David keeps going outside to check the weather, getting more and more excited as the snow continues to gather outside. After a nap, David, his Mom, and his Dad go outside to check on the big snow.

Bruchac, James, ad. Rabbit’s Snow Dance: A Traditional Iroquois Story; ad. by James and Joseph Bruchac; illus. by Jeff Newman. Dial, 2012. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Rabbit loves the winter and uses an Iroquois song and dance to make it snow in the summer. As Rabbit sings and brings more and more snow, the other animals get worried—they haven’t prepared for winter! Other animals join in Rabbit’s song and dance as enough snow falls to cover the tops of the trees. Rabbit loses his long tail and learns to be patient and wait for winter to come and bring snow.

Carnesi, Mônica. Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic.  Paulsen/Penguin, 2012. 32p. 3-7 yrs.
A curious dog is stranded on a river when the ice breaks apart and starts to float away. Baltic travels down the fast-moving river and has several attempted rescues before he is successfully saved by the crew of a boat at sea and becomes their mascot. An author’s note tells the true story of Baltic, who traveled seventy-five miles towards the Baltic Sea over the course of two days, eventually rescued by the R/V Baltica, a scientific research ship.

Cassino, Mark and Jon Nelson, Ph.D. Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder. Illus. by Nora Aoyagi with photographs by Mark Cassino. Chronicle, 2009. 33p. 7-9 yrs.
A 2009 Bulletin Blue Ribbon award winner, Cassino’s and Nelson’s book explains how snow crystals form and the different shapes they take, from stars to cylinders. This book also has numerous photographs of actual snow crystals, showing their different variations. Kids will love the helpful note in the back about how to catch snow crystals themselves.

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Life in the Boreal Forest. Illus. by Gennady Spirin. Holt, 2009. 32p. Gr. 3-5.
This beautifully illustrated information book provides a variety of information about the boreal forest ecosystem and additional resources to those interested in getting involved in its preservation. With details about creatures ranging from beavers and Tennessee warblers to wolves and the great horned owl, Guiberson takes readers through the lives of animals in the boreal forest during the winter.

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Ice Bears. Illus. by Ilya Spirin. Holt, 2008. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
A pregnant polar bear spends many months in a nesting den, as winter sets in on the arctic. Guiberson follows this mother polar bear and her two cubs as they live their lives, trying to find food, cleaning their fur, and hiding from predators who wouldn’t mind a snack of baby polar bear. As the cubs grow stronger, their mother leads them on a trek to the ocean to find ringed seals, trying to eat enough food to be able to survive into the fall. This book also has an environmental conservation appeal, informing readers about the effects of global warming on the arctic habitat.

Guion, Melissa. Baby Penguins Everywhere!. Philomel, 2012. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
A lonely penguin living on the sea finds a hat floating in the water that had in it a baby penguin…and another baby penguin…and another! The penguin is no longer lonely and instead is extremely busy. After being exhausted by all of the baby penguins, this penguin needs some time to herself before she jumps back into the fun.

Hill, Kirkpatrick. Bo at Ballard Creek. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Holt, 2013. 279p. Gr. 3-5.
After being abandoned by her dance-hall mother, young Bo was heading to an Alaskan orphanage when she snags the hearts of two gold miners; the three become an unconventional but loving family in the period after the Alaskan gold rush. Bo and her friends live in Ballard Creek at a time when a lot of excitement is taking place, including an airplane landing and dog-team mail delivery. Bo grows up learning Eskimo at a nearby Eskimo village on the Koyukuk River, learning polka, and riding along on dog sleds.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Abominables. Amulet Books, 2013. 258p. Gr. 4-6.
Tourism in the Himalayas forces a nice family of yetis to go on a road trip to find a new home. They discover an ancestral estate in England and believe they will be happy there, unaware of the fact that this new home of theirs is actually hunting ground for big-game hunters looking for the rarest of game: the Abominable Snowman. Published for Ibbotson posthumously by her son and editor, this is a delightful edition to her collection of books with beautifully imagined worlds just for kids to explore.

Jocelyn, Marthe. Ready for Winter.  Tundra, 2008. 16p. 2-4 yrs.
This board book is part of a series about preparations for the upcoming seasons. Perfect for little readers ready to start dressing themselves, this book goes through all the necessary clothes to be able to have fun in the snow.

Joyce, William and Laura Geringer. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. Illus. by William Joyce. Atheneum, 2011. 228p. Gr. 3-6.
Pitch, an evil being who feeds on children’s nightmares, attacks Katherine’s village, Santoff Claussen, a home to dreamers and inventors, and kills her foster father, Ombric, whom Katherine later revives. During the attack, Nicholas St. North, a ruffian and thief, arrives to help. He creates a mechanical man, Djinni, to aid them, but Pitch turns Djinni against its masters. Nicholas St. North finds a new way to use his weapons in the face of true danger in this beautifully illustrated novel that inspired the film The Rise of the Guardians.

Judge, Lita. Red Sled. Illus. by Lita Judge. Atheneum, 2011. 36p. 4-7 yrs.
A child leaves a red sled outside a cabin one winter’s night, prompting a bevy of woodland creatures to enjoy it. Written entirely in onomatopoeia, this cheerful book follows a variety of animals getting into mischief, becoming friends, and enjoying the winter landscape. At the end, the child joins the animals in their nighttime sledding adventures.

Kirby, Matthew J. Icefall. Scholastic, 2011. 336p. Gr. 5-8.
In a frozen landscape between the mountains and the sea, Solveig, her older sister, and her younger brother await news about their father’s victorious battle and soon become aware that a traitor is among them. Within their fortress, which feels more like a prison surrounded by berserker warriors, Solveig must find the traitor who is spreading a disease among the castle residents. The ominous setting only increases the tension in Solveig’s efforts to save her family and her sibling’s endeavors to find trustworthy allies.

Krensky, Stephen. Chaucer’s First Winter. Illus. by Henry Cole. Simon, 2009. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
Chaucer, a very curious bear, is much too excited about winter to hibernate and instead chooses to go out and play! He loves the snowflakes that land on his nose and his tongue, and he gets to play with his friends in the piles of snow. Chaucer’s friends Kit and Nugget show him how to have more fun in the snow, including sliding down snow-covered hills, snowball fights, and ice-skating.

Larson, Deborah Jo. One Frozen Lake. Illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Minnesota Historical Society, 2012. 32p. Gr. 2-4.
While waiting for a bite, two ice-fishing friends, a boy and his grandfather, play cards and share hot cocoa with other ice fishers. When the boy finally hooks a fish, it is soon released back into the lake. Though the two friends go home for the night, they are excited to go ice fishing again another day. The counting-book format offers a rhythm to readers, and viewers will enjoy the unique mixed-media artwork.

Lawrence, Iain. The Winter Pony. Delacorte, 2011. 246p. Gr. 6-9.
A wild pony’s life is changed forever when he is captured by men and treated cruelly for years, until he is taken along with Robert Falcon Scott on his quest to be the first person to reach the South Pole. The pony receives the name James Pigg from the kind men in the expedition. An already risky journey becomes increasingly dangerous as a rival explorer, Roald Amundsen from Norway, engages on his own quest to the South Pole. In this chilling race, not even animals are exempt from the rough nature of the rivalry.

Les Becquets, Diane. Season of Ice. Bloomsbury, 2008. 274p. Gr. 8-12.
Genesis, a lifelong resident of a lakeside town in Maine, isn’t fazed by snowstorms, until the day that her father goes missing during the first big storm of winter while making dock repairs. The oncoming cold freezes the lake over, preventing a search for his body, leaving Genesis and the rest of her family to face winter without a definitive answer as to her father’s fate. As the winter progresses, Genesis’ family is denied her father’s insurance money, while his disappearance is made suspicious with rumors of an extramarital affair.

Manushkin, Fran. How Mama Brought the Spring. Illus. by Holly Berry. Dutton, 2008. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Rosy’s mother, Mrs. Levine, tells her the story of how Grandma Beatrice cooked up delicious treats in a Minsk kitchen to warm away the winter chill. Mrs. Levine starts by describing the freezing winters in Minsk, and how her Mama tempted her out of bed. Grandma Beatrice gets Rosy’s mother to join her in making blintzes that remind her of sunflowers and warm up the whole house, ushering in spring in Minsk. Mrs. Levine and Rosy begin making their own blintzes to warm up Chicago.

McDonald, Megan. Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends in Winter. Illus. by G. Brian Kara. Candlewick, 2013. 64p. Gr. 1-3.
Ant hates winter and has too much energy to settle down. She tries to keep herself busy but runs out of things to do. Although Honey Bee doesn’t want company, Ant invites herself over and makes herself a huge sandwich. After her snack, the two friends settle down for a long winter’s nap.

Morel, Alex. Survive. Razorbill, 2012. 259p. Gr. 7-10.
Right as Jane is about to overdose on pills in an airplane bathroom on the way to New Jersey, the place suddenly goes into turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up as one of only two survivors of the plane crash, alongside a boy named Paul. The two, dealing with their own family tragedies, must work together to survive and escape the icy mountains before freezing to death.

Na, Il Sung. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons. Knopf, 2011. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
The rabbit knows it’s wintertime, as do all of the other animals. Rabbit’s explorations show what other animals are up to during the winter, whether it’s migrating, hibernating, or just looking for food. Once spring comes, though, the rabbit’s fur changes from white to brown, and Rabbit goes on its merry way. The illustrations, a combination of digital and handmade elements, are absolutely stunning, and elegantly highlight all of the changes that occur along the road of this story.

Northrop, Michael. Trapped. Scholastic, 2011. 232p. Gr. 7-10.
People who live in New England are perfectly used to snowstorms, so seven teens aren’t initially worried at the arrival of a blizzard while waiting to be picked up from school. Alone in the building while snow accumulates, Scotty, his friends Peter and Jason, and a few other students start to get more nervous as they realize that no one knows they are still at school and that they can’t get cell service to call for help. They are forced to act when the power and heating go out, the pipes freeze, and the roof threatens to collapse under the weight of the snow.

Obed, Ellen Bryan. Twelve Kinds of Ice. Illus. by Barbara McClintock Houghton, 2012. 64p. Gr. 2-5.
Different kinds of ice appear as winter comes closer and closer, and a family becomes excited about the different kinds of ice that prelude ice-skating. From field ice to garden ice, the family goes through different activities to enjoy each new kind. This series of vignettes captures a childlike joy that comes from playing with your family and going ice-skating with friends.

Pinfold, Levi. Black Dog; written and illus. by Levi Pinfold. Templar/Candlewick, 2012. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
A large black dog is visiting the Hope family, and it is huge! While the rest of the Hope family closes the blinds and hides inside, the youngest Hope, known as Small, bundles up and marches outside to confront the extremely large dog. As Small marches through her snow-covered town, she sings a rhyme and leads the dog through a series of obstacles. With each obstacle, the dog grows smaller until he can follow Small through the cat flap of her home, where he becomes the house pet.

Prineas, Sarah. Winterling. Harper/Harper Collins, 2012. 245p. Gr. 4-6.
Young Fer lives in a small town with her grandmother, learning how to use herbs. Her grandmother refuses to tell Fer anything about her parents, and Fer finds out why from a fairy she rescues: her parents are from another world, and their deaths summoned an eternal winter to the land which threatens to spill over into other worlds. Fer must overcome the land’s reigning Lady, a false ruler, and bring spring back.

Pyron, Bobbie. The Dogs of Winter. Levine/Scholastic, 2012. 303p. Gr. 5-9.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, young Mishka Ivan Andreovich is left to fend for himself on the streets of Moscow in the face of the impending winter after his mother disappears and her boyfriend kicks him out of the house. After trying to live in the city’s railroad stations with a group of children, he leaves their company in favor of the kinder company of dogs with which he becomes very close. Mishka and the dogs travel through the city and the countryside managing to survive despite the cold as Mishka tries to avoid ending up in one of the city’s orphanages.

Rose, Caroline Starr. May B. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. 240p. Gr. 3-6.
Out on the Kansas prairie, May is helping on a neighbor’s homestead when a terrible turn of events leaves her alone to fend for herself with winter approaching. May waits alone for four months before her father finally comes to get her. Her narration is written in verse that provides context to May’s situation, details into her present situation, and her speculations about her future and what she thinks she is able to accomplish.

Sakai, Komako. The Snow Day. Levine/Scholastic, 2009. 34p. 4-6 yrs.
A little rabbit wakes up to find that kindergarten is closed because of too much snow! The little rabbit can’t go outside until it stops snowing, so he and his mother spend a cozy day inside. Once it stops snowing, though, they spend time outside making snowballs, snow dumplings, and snow monsters. All the while, little rabbit looks forward to his Daddy being able to make it home.

Sandler, Martin W. The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure. Candlewick, 2012. 163p. Gr. 6-10.
Winter came early to the Alaskan coast in 1897, surprising whaling ships and stranding about three hundred sailors in the ice.  President McKinley orders three men to carry out a rescue mission for these sailors by driving two herds of reindeer towards the ships for the sailors to eat. This story, which closely follows David Jarvis, Samuel Call, and Ellsworth Bertholf, describes their dogsled journey along the coast as the leaders of the Overland Relief Expedition to either provide for the survivors until their ships break out of the ice or get the sailors to a rescue vessel. Accompanied by journal entries and Samuel Call’s original photographs, this nonfiction book provides a lot of background information for this real-life adventure story.

Smee, Nicola. Jingle-Jingle. Illus. by Nicola Smee. Boxer, 2008. 26p. 1-3 yrs.
Mr. Horse offers Cat, Dog, Pig, and Duck a ride in his seasonally decorated sleigh. As they venture through the fields, the animals beg for a ride down a hill. Once they reach the top of the hill, Mr. Horse joins his friends in the sleigh. The group flies and crashes into a snowdrift, which Mr. Horse greatly enjoys.

Walker, Sally M. Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed. Carolrhoda, 2010. 104p. Gr. 6-10.
Starting with the expedition of Robert Falcon Scott, Walker jumps forward one hundred years to describe the scientific endeavors taking place in Antarctica and the discoveries that have been made. The colored photographs accompanying the scientific and historical information give readers insight into the difficulties of doing research there while demonstrating the immense beauty of the continent.

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