Winter is surrounding us so why not celebrate this time of year with books about this “cuddle-up” season?  The first four books below are picture books good for ages three through seven.  The rest are also fiction books and are good for ages eight through twelve.

What’s that Noise?, by Naomi Howarth, is a beautifully painted book done in watercolor and lithography with digital rendering.  The pastel colors of pinks, purples and pale blues, along with perfect spacing of white background, creates the images of the Arctic.  The rumbling noise that animals hear makes each of these Arctic animals ponder what it could be.  Be sure to check out the back pages that are rich with Arctic animals and their habitats.

Small Walt Spots Dot, by Elizabeth Vernick, and wonderfully illustrated in Prismacolor pencil and digitally colored by Marx Rosenthal, is a delightful story about a small snowplow, Walt, and his owner, Gus.  As Walt and Gus plow streets and parking lots both see an unleashed dog running across the road.  They soon discover this cute little dog has no collar.  What happens to this dog and the plowing antics of Walt and Gus will bring great satisfaction to all who read it.  The sentences are short, and some have a rhyming pattern, making this a perfect read out-loud at the end of the day.  There are several onomatopoeias found throughout while searching for this wayward dog.  This is the third book in this popular series featuring Walt.

Cozy, by Jan Brett, is an accumulative narrative about an unusual animal – a musk ox by the name of Cozy.  This story hails back to The Mitten – an old Russian folktale.  Winter has hit and Cozy has been separated from his herd.  When animals seeking refuge from the cold, ask if they can get warm in his thick coat of fur, he repeats the house rules: Quiet voices, gentle thumping and claws to yourself. The art was done in watercolor and gouache.  If you haven’t owned a Jan Brett book you will undoubtedly desire to add her beautifully illustrated books to your collection.

Crow & Snow, by Robert Broder, and nicely illustrated using acrylic and pencils by Olivier Tallee, is a sweet and simple tale about a lonely scarecrow who stands out in the field throughout spring, summer and fall.  You begin to feel sorry for him as he tries to say hi to the farmer.  But alas, the farmer pays no attention.  When winter rolls around and snow accumulates, children build a snowman close to scarecrow.  He befriends Snow and they become great friends.  The storyline is an easy and quick read as the sentences are short.  But the theme is strong about friendship.

The Clockwork Crow, by Catherine Fisher, is a magical mystery enwrapped in Wales where an orphan, Seren Rhys, is about to travel to an old mansion.  As she is about to get on a train a package is given to her by a stranger.  She finds a strange mechanical robot–like crow who can talk but seems to have quite a curmudgeonly personality.  When she finally arrives at the mansion, she finds it almost completely empty and that the son whom she was looking forward to visiting with has been missing for almost a year.  The rumor is he was snatched by fairies. Beware – this book is an exciting page-turner!  So, make sure you have enough time when you begin reading this book.  Fortunately, there is a planned sequel.

Crossing the Black Ice Bridge (The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club), by Alex Bell, with illustrations sprinkled throughout and done in pen and ink, and digitalized by Tomislav Tomic, is book three and the final book in this perilous expedition.  The explorers must speedily take to the North to find a cure for their member who was recently bitten by a witch wolf.  However, they must find a way to reach the very treacherous large block of stone that no one has ever returned from. The other two books are: The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club and The Forbidden Expedition.

Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North, by Dan Bar-El, and with perfect etchings sprinkled throughout and done in charcoal and digitally enhanced by Kelly Pousette, continues the adventures of Duane the polar bear and his Arctic animal friends.  The first book, The Very, Very Far North, had such a tremendous readership, it’s no surprise to see this fun and adventurous second book.  But trouble is brewing and just around the corner the peaceful and pleasant days are about to change.  This would be the perfect cozy read aloud by the fire as children are read to before bed.

Sky Song, by Abi Elphinstone, is a magical adventure with the setting in a snowy kingdom.  This kingdom used to be a wonderful place in which to live until an evil Ice Queen cursed it and began stealing voices from the inhabitants in order to build up her powers.  Eska is the protagonist who is one of the many prisoners of the Ice Queen and has no memory now except she knows she mustn’t lose her voice.  Flint is the other protagonist and he sneaks into the Queen’s palace to rescue his mother, but accidentally takes Eska instead.  And the richly told adventure begins. You are going to love this book!