In this visual interpretation of a classic holiday song as sung by Peggy Lee, Hopgood strings together a beautiful, wintry chain of family pleasures.
Pure joy greets readers right from the start: the first double-page spread opens on a lovely snowy landscape with a fox, some deer, and a sleigh as musical notes accompany that familiar opening line, “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?” Readers then meet a family of five with dark hair, rosy cheeks, and peach-colored skin. The loose narrative centers on this merry band as they frolic in the woods. Classic images of a winter paradise soon follow: building a snowman, watching snow fall, sledding down a hill, snuggling up near a fire, and much more. (The line “We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way,” which seems to describe a snowball fight, will give some readers pause.) Hopgood’s crayon-and-pastel illustrations capture the sheer wonder of winter. Dark and soft blues dominate, serving as complementary backdrops for each spark of red, burst of orange, and smear of green. One particular double-page spread showing the family in front of a white tree with notes hung on its branches just gushes with wholesomeness. Better yet, each turn of the page matches each turn of the lyric impeccably. Both text and pictures cohere into utter cheerfulness, sure to get anybody singing along.
As picturesque, nostalgic, and quaint as the happiest of holiday memories. (lyrics, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)