Denise Fleming brings her trademark textured paintings and sense of wonder to The First Day of Winter. The acclaimed author/illustrator whimsically adapts the cumulative pattern of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to the crafting of a snowman. The snowman's "best friend" (a little boy) starts with "a red cap with a gold snap," adds "2 bright blue mittens" and finishes with "8 orange berries" for a mouth, "9 big black buttons" and "10 salty peanuts" for toes. Fleming further enlivens the wintry scene with curious wild creaturessquirrel, doe, field mice and birdswho crowd round to explore the "5 bird seed pockets" or perch on twig arms. Fleming crowns the child's snowy accomplishment with a big surprise. After the boy has waved good-bye, a series of wordless double-page spreads show the animals watching as the snowman lifts his peanut toes and dances across the white stuff to greet a snow buddy in a green top hat. A magical ending to a magical book. 2005, Henry Holt, Ages 2 to 6.
PreS-K-Told in a rhythm reminiscent of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," a snowman's tale begins, "On the first day of winter my best friend gave to me-/a red cap with a gold snap." The benefactor continues to deck out the snowman with two bright blue mittens for his stick hands; five birdseed pockets; nine big black buttons for his eyes, nose, and front; and, finally, 10 salty peanuts for his wintry toes. As in the holiday song, each time a new item is introduced, the story counts back to the first gift. Fleming captures the tranquility and light of snowy days with her unique artistic style. Her paper-pulp and stencil illustrations depict a winter wonderland in which vibrant striped scarves, blue mittens, and red hats provide the color in a white, uncluttered landscape. A squirrel, a mouse, a bird, a cat, a rabbit and a deer appear on each spread and seem to gaze at readers. The perspective shifts throughout the book, so on one page children look down on the snowman, while on others they look up at him from the ground. Readers finally see the snowman's friend, a bundled-up child, on the 10th day of winter. Quietly told and thoughtfully illustrated, Fleming's work celebrates the season and all of winter's creatures.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fleming creatively employs the structure of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to create a cumulative tale about the decorations for a snowman, beginning with the addition of a "red cap with a gold snap" on the first day of winter. On each subsequent day, the African-American narrator's best friend provides something else to add to the snowman's outfit: "2 bright blue mittens, 3 striped scarves," and much more, right on down to "10 salty peanuts" for the snowman's toes. Fleming uses her signature collage technique against pale gray backgrounds dotted with white snowflakes, with different animals on each page helping to add the details to the snowman. The perspectives vary until the last, wordless spread, which shows the completed snowman in a horizontal orientation that provides a satisfying conclusion. Teachers and librarians will add this volume to story times with winter or snow themes, and the clever new words to a favorite old tune might become a new winter favorite in music classrooms. (Picture book. 4-7)
“Fleming's pulp paintings are a celebration of shape, color, and texture.” The Horn Book
“Fleming brings a cheerful childlike tone to her text, along with abundant touches of humor and tenderness.” Publishers Weekly, starred review