PreS-A simple story about a boy who wakes up on a cold winter morning, goes sledding with his friends, then loses-and finds-his dog. Chapman's poetic narrative, with its strong rhythms, is the best element of this book. Inspired by Rossetti's ``In the Bleak Midwinter,'' the author layers simple words in a way that young children will respond to: ``Once upon a winter's day/I woke up/under blankets under blankets under blankets.'' The paintings, oil and acrylic, resemble Heidi Goennel's work, but have stronger colors and much more texture. This vivid, bold look suits the writing style well. Unfortunately, the illustrations never really come to life, and the characters, especially in movement, seem to lack authenticity. Like Ezra Keats's The Snowy Day (Viking, 1962), this title has an African-American main character; is illustrated with bright, simple shapes; and is about a youngster playing in the snow. Almost anything would suffer in comparison to that lovely book, with its graceful pictures and inspired, minimal text. On the whole, this is an interesting, though not wholly successful, selection.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
In a simple story about a boy and his dog on a snowy day, Chapman plays with the concept of prepositions. But this is much more than a grammar lesson. The concrete, physical words have a spare poetry. Saint James' very bright paintings, with flat, clear shapes, look like cutouts and emphasize the beauty of layers and connections. An African American boy says he wakes up "under blankets under blankets under blankets." Mama fills up his plate "with food next to food next to food." He pulls on "clothes over clothes over clothes." With his wonderful longhaired dog, Clancy, who has been with him in every picture, he sleds on the hill with his friends. Then Clancy is lost. The children search behind trees and around bushes, but Clancy has disappeared "into the snow, into the wind, into the air." Several double-page spreads show the downcast boy alone in the middle of a wide sweep of snow: "tears on tears on tears froze my face." In sharp contrast is the final embrace of mother, boy, and dog when Clancy is found: "And we all lived happily ever after ever after ever after." The rhythmic repetition of words and pictures will be great for sharing with the preschool crowd.