Winter Lullaby, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, (Dec. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536209198
I’ve been on a bedtime story kick lately; I must be missing the days I put my own littles (not-so little now) to bed with a story or 3… or 4. This latest lullaby centers on Small Bear, who doesn’t understand – despite the snow falling to the ground! – why he has to get ready to sleep the winter away. After all, he’s seeing other friends running around, like Mouse, Skunk, and Hare; why can’t he stay up? Mama patiently explains each time that each of the animals is preparing for their own winter nap, whether they are gathering food or finding a warm, comfortable spot to bed down. She soothes Small Bear’s frustration by promising that they’ll wake up to a beautiful, green spring, and they’ll spend brighter, warmer days at play. But for now, it’s time to dream. Kids and caregivers alike will recognize Small Bear’s resistance to bedtime, and pointing out the injustice of having to go to sleep while other kids get to stay up. Rhyming couplets add a soothing cadence to a readaloud, and the digital artwork has gorgeous texture, using cool and warm winter colors to bring the story to life. Different sized fonts alert readers to the change between Mama Bear and Small Bear’s dialogue. Mama and Small Bear are playfully affectionate. Illustrations and verse teach readers about various animal homes as we see skunks bed down underground, hares sleeping in a hollowed out tree, and badgers snuggling in their dens. Pair with the humorous Hush Up and Hibernate! by Sandra Markle (2018) for a hibernation storytime or lesson. Author Dianne White has an activity kit for Winter Lullaby available on her website.