Picture Book and Play – The Big Freeze

Picture Book and Play is a regular (haha! It will be regular again!) feature where I share a picture book (or books) and a fun activity or craft related to them. Usually, these will be something Peapod and I have done at home but sometimes I’ll share those I’ve used at the storytime sessions I run in work too.

This week’s felt like a particularly appropriate choice if you’ve been having the same sort of weather as us – winter woollies definitely required!

The Big Freeze by Pippa Curnick, published by Hachette

We loved Chatterbox Bear by the same author a few years ago (you can read our thoughts here) so I was thrilled when a new book by Pippa Curnick arrived in work a couple of months back.

I immediately pegged it for a storytime title as well as snapping up a copy for myself Peapod! And we weren’t disappointed on either front…

Shama and Bahama Llama are delighted when winter finally arrives and excitedly dig out their Winter Woollies ready for the Winter Woolly Party – the highlight of the season.

But their jumpers have been ravaged by moths (Peapod thought it was hilarious that I had my finest tatty cardigan on when we read this too!)

So they set off to buy more at Granny Brock’s infamous Jumper Shop…only every other creature seems to have had the same idea!

When an ice cream calamity strikes, it doesn’t look like they’ll ever get there but Shama and Bahama have a plan… But can they get the other animals to work as a team? Can they beat the queue for Granny Brock’s? And will they get the Winter Woollies of their dreams?

This has to be one of my favourite winter picture books of the year – it’s daft in places, with plenty of visual humour; onomatopoeiac ‘sound effects’ for emphasis, engagement and drama; and the sort of fantastical craziness kids love – a bear on roller skates, an avalanche of ice cream, a rather uncomfortable collision between a bottom and some pine cones…

But it’s also a gentle tale of team work, collaboration and being stronger together. There’s a lovely message in this but it doesn’t lay it on thick at all and the grumpiness, silliness and realism of it (as we see them bicker through the task!) ensure its delivered with understanding and humour.

The illustrations are equally well balanced. They’re lively, expressive and, frankly, very funny, with tonnes of slapstick silliness and a very effective mix of comic strip style and full page spreads.  But they’re set against rich textured backgrounds with autumnal fields, blustery snowstorms, splendid sunsets and midnight forests… all of which combines to give a depth and atmosphere to the story and a real quality feel to the book.

It’s safe to say this book has it all – humour, heart and, with snow, wooly jumpers and parties, exactly the sort of festive feels you want to curl up with at this time of year!

Of course, there was only one thing we could make for this one – Christmas jumpers!!

We made these at storytime in work first, then Peapod and I made some at home too. I used christmassy/wintry scrapbook papers to cut out jumper templates then the kids decorated with pom poms, sequins, sparkles, buttons and of course jingle bells!

Peapod loved the jingle bells and probably would have covered his entire jumper on them if they weren’t a bit fiddly to stick! They’ll definitely be coming out again before Christmas!

I now also come home with a bag full of cones everytime we leave the house as he picks up handfuls and jokes that we should put them on a jumper! Thanks bear!

Have you read this? Do you have any favourite wintry picture books? Will you be cracking out the Christmas jumpers/winter woollies this year?!

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