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The Weather Outside Is Frightful

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Though we'd welcome some wintry weather in California, it's beginning to hit the rest of the country. Cozy up to these snowy tales with some hot cocoa and your favorite young child.

"Blizzard" by John Rocco; Disney/Hyperion; 36 pages; $17.99.

Caldecott honoree John Rocco remembers the East Coast's blizzard of 1978 and re-creates it from his 10-year-old child point of view. Starting with the happy surprise of missing school due to huge snow banks, the boy on the pages frolics and sleds and enjoys hot chocolate for nearly a week. Eventually, his family and neighbors start running out of food, so he concocts tennis rackets into snowshoes and drags a sled to retrieve and deliver groceries.

Lots of white space and spotty blue skies give "Blizzard" a vast, chilly but cozy feel, while comic panels and a foldout spread chronicle the boy's adventure-filled expedition to the store. The end result is a nostalgic look at every lucky child's experience with snow days.

"Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard" by Janice Dean; illustrated by Russ Cox; Regnery Kids; 40 pages; $16.99.

Frog Freddy loves forecasting the weather and learns, on a class field trip, that a blizzard is about to hit his town. Since Freddy is used to helping out Frogs News Center after school, he takes charge in helping his fellow frogs and town of Lilypad be prepared. When the blizzard really hits, Freddy worries about his friend Polly the weathercaster, but helps her and others put together emergency weather kits.

Aimed for a second-grade reading level, Freddy's story is snowy fun for all! Besides the zesty, energetic tale with bold illustrations, author meteorologist Janice Dean adds lots of extra information about wintry weather and a blizzard emergency kit checklist.

"Skippyjon Jones Snow What" by Judy Schachner; Dial/Penguin; 32 pages; $17.99.

Perhaps the most fierce Chihuahua of all time, popular Skippyjon Jones, from the bestselling series, returns in a snowy tale sure to delight fans.

When his sisters become engrossed in the "fuzzy tale, schmuzzy tale" story of Snow White, Skippyjon declines and ventures deep into his closet, er, deep dark forest, as Skippito Friskito, the great sword fighter.

Skippito finds himself in a little cottage with seven small amigos and then heads out to rescue "Snow What" from a sleeping dragon's den "quicker than you can say a beso con queso." He rescues the frozen "princesa" and, later, curls back up on Mama's lap with his toy dragon.

Plenty of humor, action and Spanish slang peppered throughout make Judy Schachner's imaginative story a humorous snowy romp.

"The Winter Train" by Susanna Isern; illustrated by Ester Garcia; Cuento De Luz; 24 pages; $16.95.

Cuento de Luz publisher Ana Eulate says, "We publish stories that let light and hope in," which is exactly what this snowy tale does. In Susanna Isern's cozy story, the forest animals work to catch the train that takes them to warmer lands. Soon, though, someone notices that Squirrel has been left behind, and they don't hesitate to turn around to go back and get her.

There is a bit of drama, however, when going back puts the train in peril, but the animals work together to brush snow off the tracks, and they cozy up to each other to move forward.

Migration, seasonal change and the importance of kindness and teamwork make this beautiful book a touching winner.

"Up & Down" by Britta Teckentrup; Templar/Candlewick Books; 24 pages; $17.99.

Showcasing opposites, this fun book introduces Little Penguin, who sets off to see his best friend. "He jumped high into the air ... and dived low beneath the waves," and "He swam down through the seaweed ... and up toward a tunnel," reads the text, once flaps are turned. The intrepid little penguin swims in front of playful dolphins, behind solemn sharks, even over an orca's tail, all while his patient friend waits.

Teal backdrops show off the retro cool artscapes of mod seaweed and funky jellyfish, until our little hero climbs from the bottom of an iceberg to the top to greet his pal. Simply cool to peruse, and fun for tots, Britta Teckentrup's latest is refreshingly unique.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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