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Winter Friends    by Mary Quattlebaum & Hiroe Nakata order for
Winter Friends
by Mary Quattlebaum
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Winter Friends is a pleasure to read, and to tell others about. The jacket cover is precious, its rosy cheeked youngsters dressed in winter warmth and joyful expressions. A boy pulls a sled, his friend and her small snowman riding with delight. Mary Quattlebaum tells a tale of winter fun in rhythmic rhymes. Hiroe Nakata's flowing watercolors of images and movement are some of the best illustrations I have ever seen. Plus - for a true-to-life memory, Nakata's girl subject wears a hat just like the one that was knitted for the illustrator by her mother (including a cherry tassel).

It begins 'After the Storm' - 'Here comes the plow, / crowding the snow, / breaking the hush / like a clock alarm / that just won't shush / BRRR.' Following verse titles include 'Clean Laundry', 'My Mama's Whistle', and 'Lost and Found' - 'Mitten, mitten, / dropped in snow, / who will I find? / Which way should I go?' One that caught my fancy is 'Winter Breath' - 'Ghost horse, / all wispy mane / and misty tail / and hooves so fleet and fine - / you rise / silently / before my eyes.' Coupled with 'Icicle Piano', it creates the perfect snowy weather memory for me - 'ting tong / That long / instrument / glittering / under / the eaves / keeps / losing / ping / keys. / plip plop / They drop / softly ... Each / note/rings / clear / ting / fingered / by wind'.

A 'Snow Angel' is a must, as is building a snowman doll for Baby Jo, who is 'bundled fat / as a polar bear'. (Hey! that could be me, even though I'm long past the baby stage.) 'Sledding' is specially typeset with words set at a slant, complemented by an illustration of youngsters sledding down a slanted slope. Oops! one boy just lost his hat to the wind. And to end the day, 'Recipe for a Party' - hot steaming cocoa for all your friends. Can you tell I like this book? I sure do and recommend Quattlebaum and Nakata as a fine team offering splendid text and vivid illustrations. Do you have your sled ready? The snowfall is not too far off.

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