Judge’s latest may be virtually wordless, but it packs a powerful visual punch that will stick with readers long after the final page is turned.
At the end of a winter day, a child props the titular sled outside a cozy cabin. A bear finds it there and sets off to enjoy the ride of all rides, joined in turn by some other forest denizens. As each joins the ride, the animals’ positions change: The bear is on his back with the rabbit perched on his feet, then he is atop the moose’s antlers, a position next occupied by an exhilarated-looking porcupine. By the end of the hill, the tower of animals on top of the sled is quite shaky and collapses, “fluoomp…….ft” in a heap. The entirety is wordless but for the carefully chosen onomatopoeic words that perfectly capture the sounds and bring the adventure to life: the "scrinch scrunch" of footsteps in new snow, the "sssssffft" of the sled on its run and the “whoa” of the animals as they enjoy the ride. When the fun is over, they return the sled to the cabin, where the child puzzles over the footprints in the morning. Though rendered simply, Judge’s pencil-and-watercolor animals are gloriously full of life and infectious joy. Readers will be hard-pressed to finish this without letting their own joy show through.
Pure genius. (Picture book. 2-7)