Predators and prey alike arrive to snuggle into a boy’s cozy cottage to sleep through a winter storm in this visually breathtaking work from illustrator Bayley and British poet Patten.
The unseen young boy’s initial invitation, extended to a scarecrow, opens the door for all manner of beasts to ask for refuge. Before night fully falls, the fireside is packed tight, with creatures ranging from donkey and owl to fox and fawn. Rhyming couplets introduce each newcomer, while the refrain cumulatively lists each animal that has found shelter from the storm: “A robin peeped out from its freezing nest, / ‘Would you mind if you had another guest?’ / Into the house and out of the snow / Came a robin, a butterfly, a mouse, and an old scarecrow.” Not all of Patten’s rhymes are music to the ears, however, as when he rhymes “fur” with “chair” and “flew” with “snow.” But Bayley’s gorgeously realistic animals, which appear so lifelike that they could step right out of the pages, more than compensate. Indeed, they appear so real as to seem incongruous when juxtaposed with the more cartoonish scarecrow, with his bright colors and patterns.
A sweet complement to a wintry night by the fire snuggled up in a lap… but beware those who take a page from the boy’s book and invite in a menagerie of their own. (Picture book. 3-7)