Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story

Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story

Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story
Sean Taylor, Alex Morss, illus Cinyee Chiu

words & pictures

ISBN 9780711242838

In this cozy bedtime story, follow a child and his grandma through a winter landscape to explore how the Earth goes to sleep for winter. Spot the sleeping animals as the tale unfolds, then learn about their hibernation habits from the information pages at the end. Co-authors Sean Taylor (picture book author) and Alex Morss (ecologist, journalist, and educator) offer a gentle introduction to the concept of hibernation. In the frosty, quiet forest, the snow blankets the ground and the trees have shed their leaves. Where have all the animals gone? Are they asleep too? In each cutaway scene, see what the child cannot - that underground below his feet are dens with sleeping creatures, and within the hollow trunks of trees, animals are nesting. After the story, annotated illustrations explain the hibernation facts for each animal and what they will do when they wake up for spring. Cozy up as you expand you and your child's knowledge of the natural world.

Librarian's Book choice

Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story is a book that contains a narrative and some factual content; a combination of ingredients that complement each other really well in this instance.

It is a wonderful book that takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the eyes of a child. The child takes a stroll with Granny Sylvie through her garden and into a secret glade. When the child first sees the glade, there is an abundance of beautiful wildlife to observe. However, the next time that the child visits Granny Sylvie, the Glade is very different. It is winter and the boy laments 'Nothing's alive in winter!'. Then Granny Sylvie explains that a lot of nature 'goes to sleep'. Furthermore, she provides explanations as to why the animals and plants need to sleep in the winter.

I really love the stark contrast of the beautiful, lush, green, glade that is teaming with life, against the cold, eerie, still and white scenes that are stunningly portrayed by the illustrator Cinyee Chiu. The reader can take the opportunity to spot all of the animals tucked up for their winter sleep. I also think that it is brilliant that the author did not simply concentrate on predictable animals in this story such as bears and hedgehogs. Instead, the authors, Sean Taylor and Alex Morss, enlighten us about a wide variety of animals that hibernate: insects, queen bees, lizards, Everest Jumping Spiders and even something called a Gila monster!?

This is a perfect story for children aged 4-10 years. Although some 8-10-year olds would be comfortable to read this independently, I believe this story is best read with someone - someone to share the journey with and someone to explore the different animals and facts with.

I can see this being very useful in the winter as a starting point to answer questions from children such as: Why do the leaves fall off the trees? Or, where do all the animals go in winter? Or, why are there so many wasps about at the moment?

In summary, a clever book that utilises a mix of fiction to draw the reader in and non fiction to provide the audience with a plethora of facts to back the story up. A good five star read and perfect to pull out in the winter and read with your child at home or as a teacher for a whole class read when those colder months approach.

Picture book / Ages 4-10 years / Reviewed by James Hewish, teacher


Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story5/5

Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story

Sean Taylor, Alex Morss, illus Cinyee Chiu


A lovely picture book with a brilliant link to real life learning! This story is all about a child who enjoys going to stay with her Granny Silvie who lives in the countryside. When the child visits, s/he explores the local environment with the grandma, listening to birds sing, watching the animals scuttle around the woodland and enjoying the evening sun. However, when s/he returns to Granny's house at a later date, everything has changed - winter has come.

Granny shows the child the magic of winter including the dormouse hibernating, the bats snuggling in the caves, the moths and butterflies sleeping underground and even the pond life which survives under the ice.

This would be a really useful book to teach young children about the changing seasons and how they effect the nature around us. It has lots of beautiful pictures to help them to visualise the changes in both the animals and plants around us.

There is a further non-fiction section after the story which gives more details about the hibernation habits of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mini beasts as well as how we can help each of them to survive the winter.

I would really recommend this book either to families wanting to learn about animals throughout the seasons or to teachers.

Picture Book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, Teacher

Reviewed by: Lucy Newton