15 June 2009

If on a winter's night...

The winter solstice is almost upon us. We are wearing beanies and scarves. We are eating soups and stews. We are drinking tea and red wine. And sometimes our feet are still cold, here in the big old House of Onion.

So, as a companion to our list of summer books, here are some of our favourites that encourage rugging up and hunkering down.

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. The Lake is frozen, Nancy has mumps, and the race to the North Pole is on. (And Kate Constable loves it too.)

Speaking of Kate Constable: The Tenth Power. Tremaris is under a wintry spell and "...bears and other animals dozed...they could not know that this winter had lasted too long, and the time for spring's return had already past." Which sounds as though it might just be a longer-than-usual winter, but then there are women being sealed into the Wall of Ice and Darrow has the snow-sickness and Calwyn has to reach towards the dark magic and the dark magic-maker...

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The old Indian warned, 'Heap big snow come.' He was not wrong. It looks seriously as though Laura and her family might starve to death for a while there, but they keep their spirits up as best they can in the little town on the lonely prairie. And then it's the intrepid Cap Garland and Almanzo Wilder to the rescue. (Actually, let's also slip in a mention of These Happy Golden Years, for those freezing cold sleigh rides of Laura and Almanzo's.*)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. The White Witch's chilly grasp means that in Narnia it's always winter but never Christmas (not such a foreign concept for an Australian child). The snug home of Mr and Mrs Beaver seems all the more warm and inviting with all that snow and ice outside.

Sabriel by Garth Nix. It might be clear and cool in Ancelstierre, but once Sabriel crosses the wall into the Old Kingdom it's all snow and ice, and we know from our experiences in Narnia that that bodes no good at all.

The Snowman
by Raymond Briggs. Quiet, wintry adventures are all very well, but what happens when the sun comes out...

Soul Eater
by Michelle Paver
. Torak's pack-brother, Wolf, has been captured and Torak must brave the frozen wilderness of the Far North, and many demons, in order to rescue him. Gripping icy goodness.

The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. The book's not set entirely in winter, but, born in the middle of a storm, Thowra is never more at home than when snow falls on the High Country. (We have only just discovered that there was a movie made in the early 90s - starring Russell Crowe. Anyone seen it? Should fans of the books see it immediately or avoid at all costs?)

Call of the Wild by Jack London. North to Alaska; they're goin' North; the rush is on. In this heart-breaking dog's-eye view of the world, Buck must endure the cruelty of humans - after being a pampered pet he is in for a tough time in the wilds of Alaska.

*It was while reading These Happy Golden Years that one Onion discovered the interesting fact that 40 below zero is where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales intersect.


A latte beckons said...

Oh, I love all these wintry books! I read The Long Winter over and over. I think I was fascinated by snow (never having seen it, and living in the tropics as I was). And Laura and Almanzo's sleigh rides are magic.

Could I also mention The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, particularly the part where Sylvia rides in a cart, snuggled on a bed of soft live geese, well-covered with quilts? It always seemed the height of cosy luxury, though I'm sure in real life geese wouldn't make a very cooperative mattress.

Jonathan Walker said...

Is 'The Dark is Rising' wintery? It is many years since I read it, but I remember it so.