This squirrel here looks a lot like how I feel about now, post-holidays. And I didn’t even have that much eggnog. The holidays can get just crazy, you know? It is Sunday, right? I’m not even sure what day it is anymore.
Anyway, happy holidays to all, and I hope everyone had a joy-filled, dysfunction-free holiday, indeed. For the VERY LAST kicks-post of this year (this decade, in fact), I’m sharing some spreads from one of my favorite—if not, my very favorite—picture books of 2009, Waiting for Winter by German author/illustrator Sebastian Meschenmoser. Heaven bless Kane/Miller — for many reasons, actually, but in this case, for bringing us the first American edition of this title in June of this year, having originally been published in Germany in 2007.
I already mentioned this back in July, but Waiting for Winter, I promise, is like no other picture book you’ve seen all year. The book—what Kirkus called a “perfect marriage of words and pictures”—tells the story of Squirrel, determined to see snow this year, since he “usually stays inside in winter” and has never seen the white stuff. Waiting is hard; in fact, the illustration opening this post depicts Squirrel’s difficulties in waiting out Mother Nature: “Waiting for snow is boring. But what is Squirrel falls asleep? He might miss it.” Deciding to get some exercise (in a spastic and very funny wordless spread), he is spotted by Hedgehog, who joins with Squirrel in waiting for winter. They decide to sing sea shanties, as Meschenmoser shows in three laugh-outloud (mostly wordless) spreads, including this one in which we see there will be no peace for their poor neighbor, Bear:
I mean, see how passionately they’re beltin’ out those shanties? How funny is that? Bear decides that he’ll simply have to help Squirrel and Hedgehog watch for snow. They know it’s white and wet and cold and soft, seeing as how Deer has informed them of this. “But what if the first snowflake has already fallen?” they wonder. Hedgehog finds a toothbrush: “White and wet and cold, it’s the very first snowflake! Winter will be wonderful when it snows properly.” But, no, Squirrel has found a tin can: “It’s white and cold, and inside, it’s a little wet. Winter will be wonderful!” (Each of these epiphanies is followed by a wordless spread of what each animal’s version of snow falling through the sky looks like.) Neither type of “snow” is soft, Bear points out. “It’s a good thing that he has found it.”
“Winter will be wonderful! (But the snow is a little smelly.)”
But, ah, see that snowflake there and how it’s drawn the animals’ attention? We’re then absolutely treated to the four final, wordless spreads in the book, including this fabulous (and once again funny) one:
I don’t think this book was covered heavily in the blogosphere, but I do know that Betsy Bird covered it here. (“It is smart, clever, beautifully illustrated, and downright funny. Each season there is one good ‘snow’ book that comes out for kids. This book should be considered the good snow book of this and any other year…”) And this from David Barringer of The New York Times (in this November round-up), which I love a whole, whole lot, especially since I have been reminded several times lately what utter crap, to be blunt (and I mean the heavily schmaltzy, dripping with syrup, hyper cutesy stuff), people like to push on children in the name of children’s literature:
In Waiting for Winter, the brilliant pencil work of the author and artist Sebastian Meschenmoser brings to sketchy, scratchy life a charming, idiosyncratic character. Squirrel is as unkempt and uncombed as a parent on Sunday morning, but as innocently impulsive as a child bouncing on the bed…If the sight of hulking, slouching old Bear doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then you have no heart. These creatures are not slickly cute but refreshingly sympathetic. They do not ask to be admired. They look as if they need a hairbrush—and a cup of hot chocolate.
I had hoped that Meschenmoser would stop by for a breakfast interview this year, but it didn’t work out. Maybe one day. But it’s fitting to be celebrating this title today (especially Southerners like me — we’re still waiting for winter ourselves), as the last Sunday feature of 2009, since—as I mentioned—it’s one of my favorite titles from this year.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
WAITING FOR WINTER. First American Edition copyright © 2009 by Sebastian Meschenmoser. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kane Miller, Tulsa, OK.
1). Christmas was good. I hope you all had a great holiday. As always, I am grateful for my own happiness and health, as well as the happiness and health of my husband and girls.
2). I GET TO SEE EISHA THIS WEEK! Oh yes I do.
3). I got the one thing I wanted most this Christmas. Little did I know it includes a SIGNED BOOKPLATE. It’s a beautiful book, showcasing the life and work and inspirations of John Burningham, whose picture books and art I have long adored:
4). And then I also got surprises like this, which is also a beautifully-made book and a must-have, methinks, for Sendak fans.
6). During my kindergartener’s last week off from school during the holidays, both girls will take a special week-long art class. So, it’ll be art art art and more art all this week.
7). Great, kickin’ music—mixed CDs and otherwise—from my friend, Jill.
BONUS #2: These below were a gift and have oft warmed my feet in the past couple of days. I wonder what Sendak himself would say of such a thing.
If so, what are YOUR kicks this week?