As the final post for 2017, I want to share three beautifully illustrated picture books that touched my heart. Each one involves winter, animals, and caring for each other.
The first is a unique take on researching a science report - The Bear Report by Thyra Heder
Through dreamy watercolor illustrations and sparsely worded dialogue, emerges the story of a girl's discovery of the wonders of the north pole and polar bears.
Bored with a mundane assignment, Sophie is magically transported to the North Pole by Olafur, the polar bear. She experiences his habitat, food, interests, and struggles. She also discovers many similarities and learns the song of whales.
Ultimately, Sophie's discoveries allow her to save the day. Be sure to check out the end pages and linger over the wonderful images.
What a wonderful way to present information about polar bears, the north pole, and inspire a love of learning/research.
The second explores the true meaning of Christmas - Finding Christmas by Lezlie Evans, illustrated by Yee Von Chan.
When best friends, mouse, rabbit, and squirrel find an injured bird just before Christmas, each discovers the true heart of the season.
Gently told, the friends encourage each other to open their gifts early. With animal discovering that the swallow needs the gift more, they use their gifts to soothe and warm the swallow.
In the end, healing the swallow provides mouse with the greatest gift of all - song and friendship.
A beautifully subtle, soft-colored book full of heart. Perfect for night time snuggles.
And the third is a story about caring, refugees, and sharing what you have - Shelter by Celine Claire, illustrated by Qin Leng.
As a surrogate story for the many real-life refugee crises, this story evaluates responses to requests for assistance.
As a storm approaches, the rabbits, squirrels, and fox families "batten down the hatches." Suddenly, two shapes appear in the fog. The frightened and distrustful animals turn away the polar bears, despite their offers to share their tea in exchange for shelter, food, and warmth. All except for the smallest fox, who offers them a lantern.
When the woods are covered in snow, the happy bears know they will be okay. However, the heavy snow collapses the fox den and they are forced to seek shelter with the strangers.
This gentle tale shows how even the smallest assistance or generosity goes a long way. A great example of empathy, kindness, and giving.
I hope you get a chance to experience these touching, achingly beautiful picture books. Happy New Year to you and may 2018 be an amazing year for us all.