Lita Judge is one of our newest favorite author/illustrators. She grew up enjoying wintery weather and, according to her latest book, Red Sled, as a child she often wondered about the tracks left behind by the woodland animals. Judging from the animals' expressions in the book it appears she also knows a thing or two of the joys (and perils) of sledding downhill.
Red Sled is a nearly wordless picture book that shows the events that occur when a child leaves a red sled propped against the side of a home. A bear wanders by, notices the sled and sneaks away with it, scrunch, scrinching through the snow. The bear invites a rabbit friend for a fun, moonlight ride. As the sled flies downhill, other animals pile on one-by-one, gadung, gadunging on the snowy surface together while making gleeful noises. The impromptu sledding party results in smiles shared by all.
The illustrations in this endearing book are truly remarkable, from the animals' exuberant expressions to the little boy's wonderment at the tracks found near his sled. My kids giggle with delight at all the silly sledding antics and the faces the animals make. The adorable, bundled-up, red-hatted child reminds us of the classic character in Keats' The Snowy Day. The text consists only of a few joyful utterances and onomatopoeias like "sssssffft" for the sound the sled makes as it glides across the snow. The wordless silence punctuated by random sounds is a perfect textual interpretation of a sledding experience. Judge's Red Sled so beautifully captures the exhilaration of a sledding adventure that you'll want to immediately head to your favorite sledding hill!
Red Sled by Lita Judge. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (November 2011); ISBN 9781442420076; 40 pagesLita Judge spent part of her childhood living with her grandparents in Wisconsin. In an interview with Jules at Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast she tells how this experience helped partly inspire her to write Red Sled. There's also an adorable photograph of a grizzly bear she grew up watching (apparently her parents are wildlife photographers).
Book Source: Copy from public library
Lita Judge - Website
My kids, like many nowadays, think that all sleds are made of plastic. In fact, after reading this book I realized my kids had no firsthand knowledge of the flexible flyer or runner type of sled. This became even more evident when we tried constructing some popsicle stick sleds. My daughter thought the runners belonged on top of the sled for the rider to hold onto! Too funny!
We followed the Family Fun Classic Sled directions to make our popsicle stick sleds. The craft is fairly simple and child-friendly, except for the part that involves cutting the popsicle sticks. I could barely hack through the sticks with our tin shears, so adult-assistance is definitely required for the cutting part of the craft!
The little red sleds are the perfect size for miniature animals. My kids used some mounting putty to attach small toy animals to the tops of the sleds. They had a lot of fun helping the animals careen down the wooden sledding ramp!
I think perhaps we'll leave the sleds outside overnight and see if any real animals want to give sledding a try. Maybe the mourning dove that leaves tracks around our patio door is hankering for a new pastime. :)
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