Winter officially arrives tomorrow, and though, here in the Northeast, the thermostat doesn’t quite reflect the shift in seasons, there are plenty of books that will fill in nicely.

Snow, by Sam Usher; Templar Books, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 2-5.

Who doesn’t love a snow day? In Sam Usher’s charming picture book, a young boy wants to be the very first to step onto the freshly fallen powder, but he can’t seem to get his grandfather out the door in time. Some things are worth waiting for, as Granddad reminds the boy. There’s magic in store, and Usher’s ink and watercolor illustrations (reminiscent of Quentin Blake) capture that wonderful sight of first snow and the adventures that await on a blanket of white.

The Journey of the Penguin, by Emiliano Ponzi; Penguin Hardcover Original, $18.00, 96 pages, all ages.

Penguin Books was founded in 1935 by Allen Lane, and today, the publishing house’s flightless black-and-white mascot is recognized by readers worldwide. In this wordless picture book, a lonely Antarctic penguin leaves his icy home in search of adventure, and after traveling all over the world, ultimately wins a competition to become the face of a new publishing house. I hesitated on whether to include this book–it is nothing if not total self-promotion–but the art is exquisite. The striking compositions of bold color and graceful texture by Milanese artist Emiliano Ponzi make this a worthy gift for the design enthusiast in your life.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Shadow Puppets, The World of Eric Carle; Mudpuppy, $16.99, ages 4 and up.

The first day of winter is also the shortest day of the year, so why not celebrate the dark with these shadow puppets? The kit comes with eight puppets on sticks, tips on storytelling, and a short history on the genre’s Chinese origins. Shadow puppets have the potential to unlock children’s imaginations, but caveat emptor: While the idea is adorable, the construction is delicate. These little sticks are featherlight, and best suited for children over the age of four. 

Winter Sparks

©2015 Deirdre Gill

Outside, by Deirdre Gill; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 2-5.

What’s a boy to do when his older brother won’t join him in wintery fun outdoors? In author-illustrator Deirdre Gill’s charming picture book debut, the child ventures out alone, and builds a grand, icy fantasy world. After constructing a castle, a gentle snowman and a fire-breathing dragon, he embarks on wondrous imaginary adventures. Gill’s large oils on paper are inviting and, despite large swaths of snow covering most pages, warm. The text is minimal, but sonorous and spare enough for young readers to follow along with ease, and adult readers may notice the subtle homage to Ezra Jack Keats 1962 Caldecott winner The Snowy Day. The plucky protagonist’s imagination will likely provide inspiration to readers who find themselves staring out their own windows this winter, wondering what happens when they take that first step.