December Reading Challenge

Winter books to cozy up to!

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The abominables

The abominables

Ibbotson, Eva, author
2013

Renowned literary great Eva Ibbotson delivers a final novel in her classic, much-loved style. A previously unpublished work from this favorite author, The Abominables follows a family of yetis who are forced, by tourism, to leave their home in the Himalayas and make their way across Europe to a possible new home. Siblings Con and Ellen shepherd the yetis along their eventful journey, with the help of Perry, a good-natured truck driver. Through a mountain rescue in the Alps and a bullfight in Spain, the yetis at last find their way to an ancestral estate in England--only to come upon a club of voracious hunters who have set their sights on the most exotic prey of all: the Abominable Snowmen.
Briskly funny and full of incident, The Abominables is vintage Ibbotson. With unforgettable characters and thoughtful messages about the environment and advocacy, it's a generous last gift to her many devoted fans.

Praise for The Abominables
STARRED REVIEW S
"A satiric farewell from a favorite author."
-- Kirkus Reviews , starred review

"A memorable finale to a treasured body of work."
-- Publishers Weekly , starred review

"The novel is full of whimsy, charm, and sly humor. The yetis will tug at readers' heartstrings and make them laugh. The writing is lean, witty, and subtle. Ibbotson manages to touch on ethical messages of human rights, advocacy, and environmentalism without being obvious."
-- School Library Journal

" The writing is skillful, precise, and frequently funny, and it offers an effective counterbalance to some of the story's more serious social criticism..."
-- Bulletin of The Center for Children's Books

"Readers will enjoy Ibbotson's final book."
-- Library Media Connection

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After the snow

After the snow

Crockett, S. D. (Sophie D.)
2012

The oceans stopped working before Willo was born, so the world of ice and snow is all he's ever known. He lives with his family deep in the wilderness, far from the government's controlling grasp. Willo's survival skills are put to the test when he arrives home one day to find his family gone. It could be the government; it could be scavengers--all Willo knows is he has to find refuge and his family. It is a journey that will take him into the city he's always avoided, with a girl who needs his help more than he knows.

S.D. Crockett on narrative voice and an especially cold winter:

What was your inspiration for After the Snow ?
Well, apart from the unbelievably cold winter during which I was writing--in an unheated house, chopping logs and digging my car out of the snow; I think much of the inspiration for the settings in After the Snow came from my various travels.

In my twenties I worked as a timber buyer in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, and that work led to travels in Eastern Europe and Armenia. As soon as I step off the plane in those places it smells like home.

It may sound strange to say, when After the Snow is set in Wales, but really the practical dilemmas in the book come directly from places I've been, people I've lived with, and the hardships I've seen endured with grace and capability. I was in Russia not long after the Soviet Union collapsed and I've seen society in freefall. Without realizing it at the time I think those experiences led me to dive into After the Snow with real passion.

What would western civilization look like with a few tumbles under its belt? What would happen if the things we took for granted disappeared? I wanted to write a gripping story about that scenario, but hardly felt that I was straying into fantasy in the detail.

What do you want readers to most remember about After the Snow ?
We all have the capacity to survive, but in what manner? What do we turn to in those times of trouble? Those are the questions I would like people to contemplate after reading After the Snow .

How did Willo's unique voice come to you?
Willo's voice appeared in those crucial first few paragraphs. After that it just grew along with his world and the terrible situations that arise. I think his voice is in all of us. We don't understand, we try to make good--maybe we find ourselves.

How did you stay warm while writing this novel?
I banked up the fire--and was warmed by hopes of spring.

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Far from you

Far from you

Schroeder, Lisa
2009

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole.Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.Perhaps she's not so alone after all....

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The first day of winter

The first day of winter

Fleming, Denise, 1950-
2005

From renown picture book author Denise Fleming, a cozy, cumulative book to warm a cold winter day

Alive with swirling snow and lots of outdoor fun, the first ten days of winter bring special gifts for a special friend. This cumulative tale will have children chanting along as they discover all the trimmings needed for the most perfect snowman ever!

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In the midst of winter

In the midst of winter

Allende, Isabel, author
2017

New York Times Bestseller

Worldwide bestselling "dazzling storyteller" (Associated Press) Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.

In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident--which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster--a 60-year-old human rights scholar--hits the car of Evelyn Ortega--a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala--in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor's house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz--a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile--for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende's landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of "humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics" (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post ). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

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A is for axel : an ice skating alphabet

A is for axel : an ice skating alphabet

Browning, Kurt
2005

Four-time World Champion and professional figure skater Kurt Browning replaces his boots and blades with pen and paper in A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet. From holding an edge to laces and hooks, Kurt glides and dances through the alphabet explaining the history, techniques, and memorable moments of the sport. Spirited illustrator Melanie Rose captures the excitement visually with her colorful, playful illustrations. With the Winter Olympics spinning our way in 2006, this book will have fans young and old dreaming of gold. Author Kurt Browning is known for his fluid movement and confidence on the ice. A four-time world champion, Kurt is the first figure skater to be named as Canada's outstanding male athlete. He presently skates professionally with Stars on Ice and lives in Toronto, Ontario with his wife and son. Illustrator Melanie Rose's charming and lively oil paintings have graced the pages of several Sleeping Bear Press titles including Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet; H is for Homerun: A Baseball Alphabet; and W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet. She makes her home in Mississauga, Canada, with her son Liam and their two cats, Mickey and Meesha.

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Life as we knew it

Life as we knew it

Pfeffer, Susan Beth, 1948-
2006

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald's still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda's disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like "one marble hits another." The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to theunexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year's worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda's struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written several companion novels to Life As We Knew It, including The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon.

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The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963
2000

C. S. Lewis's most famous children's book presented as a graphic novel. First Lucy, then Edmund, Susan and Peter discover that through the wardrobe lies the enchanted land of Narnia -- a land of Talking Animals, Dwarfs and Fauns, a land held in the grip of the White Witch, where it is always winter, and never Christmas. But once there, the children are taken under Mr Beaver'swing, and Mr Beaver leads them to Aslan, the Great Lion, who has plans for them, and for Narnia. A reissue of this classic story told in graphic novel style with glowing full colour illustrations.

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Little penguins

Little penguins

Rylant, Cynthia, author
2016

Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Rylant and Caldecott Honor-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson pair up to tell this wintry story about five little penguins enjoying a snowy day.

Snowflakes? Many snowflakes. Winter is coming. So begins this ever-so-simple story. As the snow starts to fall, the excited penguins pull out scarves, mittens, heavy socks, and boots, and Mama helps them bundle up. But when it's time to go out, one timid penguin decides to stay home. Filled with waddling baby penguins, playful text, and delightful illustrations, this book feels like a young picture-book classic in the making.

"Visually stunning. . . . Pair with Ezra Jack Keats's classic The Snowy Day. " -- Booklist, Starred

"An excellent tale for the very young. A very warm and satisfying bedtime book and a paean to penguins and winter delights." -- Kirkus Reviews

Winners of the National Parenting Product Award
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

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Love on the lifts

Love on the lifts

Hawthorne, Rachel.
2006

From beach-read favorite Rachel Hawthorne, author of Caribbean Cruising and Island Girls and Boys, comes a ski-slope romance for those cold winter nights! Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Barnholdt and Susane Colasanti.

Winter Break super-secret perfect cocoa recipe:

8 oz steamed whole milk

(no skim! doesn't work!)

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder (big scoops)

1 tbsp. sugar (can't be too sweet)

4 dried, crushed mint leaves

(or 1 tbsp. mint syrup)

Stir thoroughly. Add mint swizzle stick. Combine with cute ski instructor, or brother's cute best friend, or cute guy you never noticed was so cute...Enjoy.

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One day in December

One day in December

Silver, Josie, author
2018

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"Get ready to be swept up in a whirlwind romance. It absolutely charmed me."--Reese Witherspoon

"Josie Silver writes with a warmth so palpable her characters sneak their way into your heart and stay for a long time."--Jill Santopolo, New York Times -bestselling author of The Light We Lost

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

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Over and under the snow

Over and under the snow

Messner, Kate, author
2014

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This beloved nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.

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Owl moon

Owl moon

Yolen, Jane, author
1987

Celebrating 30 years of the beloved classic Owl Moon from renowned children's book author Jane Yolen and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator John Schoenherr!

Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don't need words. You don't need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn't an owl, but sometimes there is.

Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind's close relatiohship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by John Schoenherr's soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading alound and sharing at bedtime.

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The snow  child : a novel

The snow child : a novel

Ivey, Eowyn
2012

In this magical debut -- a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize -- a couple's lives are changed forever by the arrival of a little girl, wild and secretive, on their snowy doorstep.

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

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The Time Fetch : a novel

The Time Fetch : a novel

Herrick, Amy, author
2013

Edward thought he had picked up a rock. He didn't know it was a sleeping Time Fetch--and touching it would alter the entire fabric of time and space.

Under normal circumstances, a Time Fetch sends out its foragers to collect only those moments that will never be missed or regretted. It then rests, waiting to be called back by the Keeper, who distributes the gathered time where it is needed in our world and others.

When eighth-grader Edward innocently mistakes a sleeping Fetch for an ordinary rock, he wakes its foragers too early, and they begin to multiply and gobble up too much time. Soon the bell rings to end class just as it's begun. Buses race down streets, too far behind schedule to stop for passengers. Buildings and sidewalks begin to disappear, as the whole fabric of the universe starts to unravel.

To try and stop the foragers, Edward must depend on the help of his classmates Feenix, Danton, and Brigit--whether he likes it or not. They all have touched the Fetch, and it has drawn them together in a strange and thrilling adventure in which the boundaries between worlds and dimensions are blurred. The places and creatures on the other side are much like the ones they've always known--but slightly twisted, a little darker, and much more dangerous.

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An unwanted guest

An unwanted guest

Lapeña, Shari, 1960-, author
2018

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect winter wonderland getaway . . . until the bodies start piling up.

It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful, but Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or just curling up with a book and someone you love.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets and firewood--a genuine rustic experience!

Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip.

The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle in and hope they can survive the storm.

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Winter garden

Winter garden

Hannah, Kristin, author
2013

Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden is one woman's sweeping, heartbreaking story of love, loss, and redemption. At once an epic love story set in World War II Russia and an intimate portrait of contemporary mothers and daughters poised at the crossroads of their lives, it explores the heartbreak of war, the cost of survival and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It is a novel that will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.

1941 . Leningrad, a once magical city besieged by war, cut off from aid, buried in snow. A city full of women desperate to save their children and themselves...

2000 . Loss and old age have taken a terrible toll on Anya Whitson. At last, she will reach out to her estranged daughters. In a halting, uncertain voice, she begins to weave a fable about a beautiful Russian girl who lived in Leningrad a lifetime ago...

Nina and Meredith sit spellbound at their mother's bedside, listening to a story that spans more than sixty years and moves from the terrors of war-torn Leningrad under siege to modern-day Alaska.

In a quest to uncover the truth behind the story, Nina and Meredith discover a secret so shocking, so impossible to believe, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

"Another powerful story of family love, and strong women...a fascinating story that weaves fairy tales into reality, fairy tales that don't always have the expected endings." ― The Herald-News

..".a gripping read. Hannah's audience will find plenty to discuss in this enthralling entry." ― Booklist

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Winter tide

Winter tide

Emrys, Ruthanna, author
2017

One of NPR's Best Books of 2017!
Finalist for the RT Award for Best Fantasy Novel

" Winter Tide is a weird, lyrical mystery -- truly strange and compellingly grim. It's an innovative gem that turns Lovecraft on his head with cleverness and heart" --Cherie Priest

After attacking Devil's Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

Winter Tide is the debut novel from Ruthanna Emrys. It is the first book in the Innsmouth Legacy series.

THE INNSMOUTH LEGACY
Book 1: Winter Tide
Book 2: Deep Roots

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Winter town

Winter town

Emond, Stephen
2011

Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent's divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she's changed. The former "girl next door" now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, "Old Lucy" still exists, and he's determined to find her... even if it means pissing her off.

Garden State meets Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist in this funny and poignant illustrated novel about opposites who fall in love.

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Winterfrost

Winterfrost

Houts, Michelle, author
2014

An ordinary Danish Christmas turns extraordinary when a family overlooks an important folkloric tradition.

Christmas has come, and with it a sparkling white winterfrost over the countryside. But twelve-year-old Bettina's parents have been called away unexpectedly, leaving her in charge of the house, the farm, and baby Pia. In all the confusion, Bettina's family neglects to set out the traditional bowl of Christmas rice pudding for the tiny nisse who are rumored to look after the family and their livestock. No one besides her grandfather ever believed the nisse were real, so what harm could there be in forgetting this silly custom? But when baby Pia disappears during a nap, the magic of the nisse makes itself known. To find her sister and set things right, Bettina must venture into the miniature world of these usually helpful, but sometimes mischievous folk. A delightful winter adventure for lovers of the legendary and miraculous.

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Wolf in the snow

Wolf in the snow

Cordell, Matthew, 1975- author, illustrator
2017

Winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal

A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?

Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother .

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