In the woods, families of animals awaken and are eating breakfast when the birds bring news of a winter storm approaching, which spurs them into action gathering food and supplies.
After a full day of gathering, the animals are all safe in their homes. The winds pick up as two strangers walk into the clearing, a tall one and a small one: two bears in need of shelter. The families inside watch as they come near, wondering who they are and what they want. They knock on each door, offering tea in exchange for warmth, food, light, but each family says they don’t have enough to spare and turns them away. They plan to hunker down near a hill when they hear Little Fox behind them. He brings them a lantern, and they’re grateful for the kindness as the snow falls, soon covering the woods. Little Fox’s kindness is returned when danger comes to the fox den, and his family is spared a terrible fate thanks to the strangers in need. Claire’s prose is rhythmic and gentle, with enjoyable repetition and memorable lines that lend themselves to being read aloud. Leng’s earth-toned watercolors and light strokes of pen and ink have a wonderful messiness about them, and her clothed, anthropomorphic animals are drawn more gesturally than the rounded cartoony look found in many picture books.
Claire and Leng have created a beautiful tale that reads like a fable to teach giving and kindness, with artwork that warms up as its characters do. (Picture book. 4-7)