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Reassuring Picture Books for Frosty Winter Days

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Wintertime can drag on for kids, and sometimes it seems dark and cold. These charming picture books add warmth and reassurance on frosty winter days.

"Soup Day" by Melissa Iwai; Henry Holt and Co.; 32 pages; $12.99.

A toasty bowl of soup can warm the body and spirit. This ode to a little girl's "soup day" with her mother is colorful and comforting. It's also educational — with the recipe for "snowy day vegetable soup" and the careful steps mother and daughter take in preparing it. The pair put crispy green celery, shiny yellow onion, smooth tan potatoes and more in their basket, and then go home to wash, chop (with a plastic knife) and fill a big pot with broth and olive oil.

More than just a how-to-make soup book, the sturdy pages also portray the pair playing, reading and escaping from pretend monsters, while the house begins to fill with the aroma of delectable soup. It's a collaged artsy, homey little tale sure to warm bellies and hearts.

"Mad at Mommy" by Komako Sakai; Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic; 32 pages; $16.99.

From the creator of The New York Times' best-illustrated book, "The Snow Day," comes this reassuring tale about a little bunny that's mad at Mommy. What does Mommy do that's so wrong? She sleeps late on Saturday mornings, yells sometimes, and even forgets occasionally to wash all the bunny's clothes, so that he has to wear the same socks as yesterday.

Sakai's sketchy, calmly colored pages evoke a vintage home life, with gently drawn pages colored in pale blues and greens. The young bunny's face flows from normal frustration to sadness to hopefulness, as he realizes his mother loves him "so much!"

"All the Things I Love about You" by LeUyen Pham; Balzar (plus) Bray/HarperCollins; 32 pages; $14.99.

This ode to the special love between mothers and little boys is zesty and smile-inducing.

Simply a reminder of the many things Mom loves about her son: "I love the way your hair looks in the morning," and "I love the feel of your heartbeat as if you have a butterfly fluttering in your insides." The lively book then gets more lively. Pham's drawings of an energetic little boy are humorous, especially when Mom says "I love how you skip the letter Y in the alphabet because Z is so much fun to say," and "I love hearing you say Mama! Although sometimes I prefer Papa," with a drawing nearby of Mom trying to sleep.

A lovely gift for any mother of a toddler boy, Pham's happy book is comforting and funny.

"Six Crows" by Leo Lionni; Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; 32 pages; $16.99.

Originally published in 1988, this classic's re-release is timed perfectly, and showcases Lionni's ability to use humor and globally relatable situations to help children solve problems.

Set in the beautiful Balabadur Hills in India, a farmer tends to his field of wheat while six hungry crows watch and wait, prompting the farmer to build a scarecrow. This prompts the crows to build a big bird kite, which scares the farmer. He then builds a more menacing scarecrow; in the meantime, the wheat begins to wilt.

A wise owl wonders who's sillier, the farmer or the crows, and encourages each to talk to the other about their concerns and problems.

Kids who may have concerns with international relations or war, or even verbal spats at home, may find reassurance in Lionni's wise and calm tale. His brilliant, sparse use of collage is dramatically attractive, as well.

"Dot and Dash Play Together" by Emma Dodd; Scholastic; 10 pages; $8.99.

If tots can't play outside due to the weather, they will love this action-packed interactive book about a dog and cat pair of friends who play outside and have all sorts of fun. With tabs to pull and flaps to open, toddlers can check on the weather, find friends and operate a seesaw. They'll also be happy to remember how fun it is to play outdoors.

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

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