Footprints in the Snow
By Mei Matsuoka
Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 9780805087925
Grades 1-3
In Stores

I had my one any only DJ gig right around the time “Hey Ya!” by Outkast was a big hit. I ended that night with an experiment: how many times can I play that song in a row before people would stop dancing? It turns out that the answer is infinity. People kept dancing until the cars came and everyone had to leave. Cyclical books often have the same affect on youngsters – they like the familiarity that comes with repetition and enjoy knowing that the story will loop around to the beginning. Footprints in the Snow is a story within a story that has a nice loop at the end, leaving young readers to ponder how the story concludes. Definitely not your cookie-cutter title, and not one for “must have a clear happy-ending” kids (Scope Notes Note: There is nothing wrong with that), Footprints will be most successful with clever young readers who like their books a little mischievous.

The story is based upon a fact of life. That there are not many stories about wolves who are nice. Wolf sets out to write a story that will change that. His story within the story begins with “Mr. Nice Wolf” following a set of footprints outside his door in the hopes of finding a new friend. Mr. N. Wolf runs into a squirrel, a rabbit, and a frog, all of whom flee in fear. It is his last encounter, with a tasty-looking duck, where Mr. Nice Wolf begins to let his instincts get the best of him. Just before he devours the duck, the story is abruptly stopped. We find that the author, Wolf, is in the bathtub writing and has let his mind wander. Relieved that he stopped his story before it became another ‘bad wolf” tale, he hears a knock at the door. Upon stepping outside, Wolf finds a set of footprints and sets off to find out who they belong to. And the story continues…

The illustrations are clear and basic in layout with subtle details thrown in. Readers will find new things to look at with repeat readings. Text is also used to nice effect here, with words winding and floating on various pages. Appropriate fonts (and font sizes) are used to express emotions when it is needed.

This is the kind of book to which kids won’t declare their love at once. I envision young readers putting this one down with a sly smile on their face, thinking about what will happen next.

Also reviewed by A Fuse #8 Production, Kids Lit.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.