Once Upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson

 Once Upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson
Review Copy from Faber & Faber
A wordless picture book that calls to mind Raymond Briggs's classic, The Snowman, Once Upon a Snowstorm is a story of friendship that is rich with detail and meaning.
A cozy, snow covered cabin in the woods is home to a father and son, a portrait of mom, as well as a couple of animal heads, hang on the walls. When the boy brings an empty plate of food to his father, the two suit up and, gun in the father's hand, they head into the woods. When the growing storm separates them, the boy finds safety in a cave.
Waking to find himself surrounded by forest animals, they become friends, warily at first. Soon, they are dancing and playing, sharing food and water, and painting on the walls. There, the boy paints a scene from his home life and worries about his father. Using the boy's painting as a map, the bear carries him home. The boy stops his father, who aims his gun at the bear, and they shake hands instead.
The end of the book finds the father and son in the spring, sharing a hillside with the animals of the forest. In the distance, the bear and her cub wave to their friends.

Johnson's detailed illustrations make Once Upon a Snowstorm a book that you will read over and over. Johnson's palette is muted, with icy blues and initial snowstorm is peppered with snowflakes that look like the forest animals. Red with yellow polkadots appear throughout the story, first on the dress the mother is wearing in her portrait, then on the boy's socks, scarf and a pillow in the house. At the springtime end of the story, a red butterfly with yellow spots hovers nearby father, son and new animal friends. 

Johnson's intricate illustrations and dreamy story will warm your heart, wether or not the night is cold!

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