Even the sparkles on the cover may not be enough to redeem this wintry counting book, the author’s debut.
The almost nonexistent story loosely follows a snowboy as he adventures across the snowy landscape, meeting and playing with friends along the way and escaping from a fox who wants to eat his new rabbit pals. Numbers connect everything as the text counts from one to 10 and back down again in both numbers and numerals. This is a rhyming book, though the rhymes cross page turns: “One snowboy all alone. // Two children unaware. // Three ancient apple trees. // Four apples in the air.” This interrupts the rhythm, particularly for children who wish to linger over Wendy Wahman’s digital illustrations. Sharply defined, stylized shapes and flat, though vibrant, colors mark her distinctive illustrative style, but it may not be to everyone’s taste, with its flower-patterned fish, fixedly-smiling snow people and unkindness of unfriendly-looking ravens. The details that readers are likely to enjoy are often too small to see—the knitting spiders, for instance. Indeed, the tiny Photoshop illustrations will make this difficult to share with even small groups. Also, even the youngest of children may spot the gloves amid what should be the “Eight mittens in a row.”
Count on skipping this one in favor of a celebration of winter that has a more obvious storyline. (Picture book. 3-5)