by Kazuno Kohara (Author)
Nicely timed for the Christmas market, this is an unusual picturebook about winter frost and snow. The illustrations are two-tone, either grey and black or powder-blue and white. They look like prints from traditional woodblock or lino cut, which is entirely fitting as these media have a particularly ‘northern’ feel. Lending itself to a stylised rather than naturalistic representation of the boy, his dog and Jack Frost, the snowy scene is magical in its restraint and Kazuno Kohara’s cutouts are very assured in their depiction of the figures, their stance and gesture. Like the pared-down flattened perspective the story is taut yet eloquent. Jack Frost appears and the boy plays with him through the winter, knowing only that any mention of warmth will drive Jack Frost away. They race over ponds of ice and hills of snow, throw snowballs and make snowmen until one day while playing in the woods the boy mentions a snowdrop he has found. That is enough to break winter’s spell and Jack Frost disappears, leaving only a promise in the wind that he will return next year.
This is a deceptively simple and satisfying story, beautifully produced, well worth lingering over on a winter’s day. Perhaps all the more so in our maritime climate where this is the closest we may get to winter-long snow!