The Winter Train, by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Ester Garcia; Cuento de Luz, $16.95, 24 pages, ages 2-5. 

The first snowflakes send many of us for warmer climes, and the animals in The Winter Train are no exception. The Northern Forest inhabitants prepare to escape the annual freeze, packing their toothbrushes and turning out the lights. It seems everyone makes it onto the train, except they’ve forgotten their pal Squirrel. Friends stick together in Susanna Isern’s tale full of grace and solidarity, while Jon Brokenbow’s faithful translation retains the sonorous, read-aloud quality from the original Spanish version, Tren de invierno. Ester Garcia’s renderings of partriges, hedgehogs and ferrets are cozy and endearing. As these animals of the Northern Forest know, kindness and generosity are the nicest gifts of all.

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