It’s that time of the year when our thoughts turn to the wonder of winter’s first snowfall. I think I’ve found the Perfect Picture Book to help get you in the mood!
Title: A Sled for Gabo
Written By: Emma Otheguy
Illustrated By: Ana Ramírez González
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/2021
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: snow, sledding, multicultural, overcoming shyness, moving
Opening: The day it snowed Gabo followed the whistling sound of an old steam radiator into the kitchen.
Gabo, a young boy experiencing a snowy day for the first time, longs to join school friends on sleds, but he’s shy, and he lacks a sled and warm winter gear.
Links to Resources:
- See how many of the Sled for Gabo Bingo activities you can complete;
- If snow has fallen near your home, plan a sledding party. Add a hot cocoa bar or a hot treat you love to warm up afterwards;
- Check out the terrific Curriculum Guide for even more ideas.
Why I Like this Book:
In A Sled for Gabo, Otheguy captures the excitement of experiencing snow and sledding for the first time, and she raises the issue the that you need warm clothes and a sled to enjoy the wintry activity.
From the outset, with the mention of an “old steam radiator”, it’s clear that money isn’t plentiful in Gabo’s household. Readers soon learn that Gabo didn’t have a sled, he wore thin cotton socks, he lacked waterproof boots, and his winter hat was too small. But his Mami improvised, as parents often do, and bundled him into layers of socks and his father’s larger hat, and she used plastic bags tied with string to keep Gabo’s sneakers dry. I love how Gabo smiled at the bags and displayed no hints of being self-conscious about his make-shift winterwear.
Gabo then set off to find a sled. He was too shy to approach the other children to ride on their sleds. He visited adult neighbors and asked them for a sled. But no one had one. Instead, one resourceful adult presented Gabo with a cafeteria tray, which, as anyone who grew up among snowy hills knows, can be even faster and more fun than an actual sled. As snow and sledding were new to Gabo, though, he didn’t realize this, until, that is, a new friend showed him.
I think both children who have experienced sledding and those who are new to wintry weather will enjoy A Sled for Gabo. The story not only brought back many memories of snowy days from my youth, but it also helped me empathize with children who have lived in warmer climates and are experiencing snow for the first time, especially if they lack the right gear and the money to pay for it. I also love how Otheguy weaves together the themes of friendship, experiencing a new environment, and overcoming hesitancy.
Bright primary colors warm up the wintry scenes and highlight the friendliness of Gabo’s welcoming neighbors.
A Note about Craft:
Otheguy’s choice of words helps readers recognize several important aspects of the story: an old steam radiator whistles – clearly this isn’t a fancy new or updated house. We feel the wintry weather with Gabo when “his warm breath bloomed a cloud of fog onto the glass.” Mami converses in Spanish, and Gabo answers a neighbor with “No gracias.” Gabo and his new friend share warmed dulce de leche after playing in the snow.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!