While more and more children’s books are published every year, and they do seem to be getting increasingly polished and sophisticated, especially in terms of the high quality of illustrations found in most of the books (possibly because a lot of the art can now be created or edited digitally), a lot of the time, these books seem to be designed to appeal more to adult sensibilities and tastes. In fact, these days, you can hardly tell who’s the intended audience for ‘children’s books’. Consequently, the simple, hopeful — i.e. childlike — innocence that was the mainstay of so many beloved ‘old’ stories, is almost non-existent in today’s children’s books.
Fortunately, unlike bad ’80s fashion, good children’s books never really go out of style — so a book can be published in 1960 and yet still delight a child today as much as it did another more than half a century ago. If that’s not a kind of magic, I don’t know what is.
While Mooncake hasn’t been published THAT long ago — 1983, for the record — it’s definitely an old-school classic that will resonate strongly with children, and take the adults reading it back to a simpler time.
If the extreme weather conditions that everyone has been experiencing around the world, especially in the last few months — unusually snowy and super-cold winter in the northern hemisphere; excessively hot and dry summer in the southern hemisphere — are anything to go by, it’s no longer possible to deny that climate change is well underway, and unfortunately, not for the better. Even here in equatorial Singapore, we are not spared: where we used to experience frequent showers and thunderstorms, in the last two months, we haven’t so much as seen a drop of rain, and as a result, all the poor plants are turning brown and wilting from the dry heat — in fact, February 2014 was the driest month here since 1869! Thus, the arrival of the milder conditions of spring (or autumn, as the case may be), is a harbinger of hope that maybe, just maybe, this crazy weather is temporary and that, fingers crossed, things will soon go back to normal.
As the title suggests, Over and Under the Snow explores how big and little animals alike adapt to the snow and cold during winter — with some even using the snow to their advantage, often travelling and hiding under it to escape both predators and the cold air above.
Bear Snores On centres around the titular hibernating bear and a motley group of animals who, one by one, decide to take the chance to seek some shelter and warmth from the cold winter in his cozy lair while he snoozes on, blissfully unaware — well, at least for a while.
Winter is personified here as Old Man Winter who tries to get an absent-minded and hard-of-hearing bear to go into hibernation by telling him, “Sleep, big bear, sleep.” But each time, the bear mishears his advice and does everything but that: sweep, leap, drive a jeep, etc.