Fantasy readings – In the shelter of books

In the shelter of books

The cold and children’s literature

By Adriana Fernández

Once upon a time there was a man made of snow. His name was Don Fresquete.

Had this man of white fallen from the moon? No.

Had he escaped from an ice-cream parlour? No, no, no.

 He had simply been made by the children that afternoon, by putting a snowball on top of a snowball.

María Elena Walsh, Don Fresquete

Do you remember Don Fresquete? The great María Elena Walsh imagined this character whose name rhymes with “barrilete” (kite) and that one day… He escaped. I can think of no better way to introduce our theme of the cold in children’s books than reading that very short, classic tale! The cold features in many stories dedicated to childhood; it is associated with a season that generates a certain forlornness, but is also that of seeking shelter, of being indoors, of inventing new games and ways of relating to others. Today we have selected three books in honour of the beginning of this winter season.

A story about those who “suffer the cold”.

Sapo en invierno [Frog in Winter], by Max Velthuijs
Ediciones Ekaré, 2017

Have you heard the expression “to suffer the cold”? Such is the case of Frog, who feels helpless and – so to speak – inferior to all his friends. Mother Nature did not give him the protection of feathers, nor thick fur, nor any fat… he is just a bare frog, he says.

But the cold will not defeat him, because his friends help out, keeping him warm and preparing him for the harsh season, until everything sprouts once again and spring arrives.
This is a story about solidarity and friendship, about trade-offs and resolutions.

The author, Max Velthuijs, was born in the Netherlands and died in 2005. In 2004, he was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, the highest recognition in children’s literature.

A novel about a place where it is always cold

La niña del desierto blanco, by María Carro
Planeta Lector, 2020

La niña del desierto blanco is a most unique novel. The author, María Carro, has dedicated her life to the promotion of children’s and young people’s literature, and lived with her family in Antarctica during her childhood. Her experience there provides the source of inspiration for this fictional story about a girl who, as a member of the first group of families to go to live in this veritable white desert, faces her own challenges, accompanied by her loving and indispensable dogs. What does a girl do in a place where the cold is both a permanent obstacle and companion?

What science has to say about the cold.

Ciencia para pasar el invierno, de Valeria Edelsztein
Ediciones Iamiqué, 2016

The Iamiqué publishing house produces these marvellous books that take a scientific look at issues that we take so for granted that we don’t believe there is any mystery to them. This book raises the questions about winter that perhaps we have never asked ourselves, and which have very interesting answers. How does our body know that it is cold? Why does it feel the cold? Why do we shiver, or why do we get “goose bumps”? How are the flu and cold weather related? How does snow form? Why can we walk on ice? … And more questions for curious children and parents eager to share the answers.

Adriana Fernández (Buenos Aires, 1970) graduated from the Yanique Instituto Nacional del Profesorado “Joaquín V. González” as a teacher in Spanish, Literature and Latin. She has taught at the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (UNGS), the Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She is the publishing manager of Grupo Planeta in Argentina.

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