This misleadingly titled Dutch import mixes a mediocre storyline with some inconsistent tongue-in-cheek visual humor.
Peter is at first thrilled when snow falls around the lighthouse where he lives with his grandmother and dog, Leo. He spends the day crafting some pretty humorous anatomically correct snow figures. But toward evening, the snow picks up again and shows no sign of letting up, so Grandma brings in the goat and chicken. The next day, with the snow a wall outside the door, the titular “winter sleepers” start arriving for shelter: a rabbit, an owl, hedgehogs, a bat and other critters. They are more guests than the hibernators the title suggests; Peter only wishes these new animals all slept at night. After several chaotic days of picking up after them, the arrival of a final guest, a fox, sends Peter into a panic when Gull goes missing. All turns out for the best, though, and slowly but surely the winter sleepers return to nature, leaving only the fox in Leo’s dog bed. Unfortunately, uneven pacing is not the text’s worst flaw—Peter’s name reverts to the original, Dutch “Elmo” on a center page, leaving readers puzzled and breaking the flow of the story. The hints of humor found in de Haas’ vigorous watercolors might have the power to overcome the text’s weaknesses, but they are not consistent, starting strong but petering out toward the end.
Here’s hoping Peter’s next outing (Peter and the Seal, 2012) will be better executed and edited. (Picture book. 4-8)