In "Little Penguins," five little penguins are very excited to see the first snowfall. They rush to get ready and outside to play, but one little penguin needs Mama's encouragement to go out and enjoy the snow. Back inside, it's time for snacks and cozy sleep.

Books

LITTLE PENGUINS by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson

In this sweet and simple story, five little penguins are very excited to see the first snowfall. They rush to get ready and outside to play, but one little penguin needs Mama's encouragement to go out and enjoy the snow. Back inside, it's time for snacks and cozy sleep. The bold, colorful illustrations will appeal to very young readers. This is a new classic for a snowy day. FOR AGES 1-4

BEST IN SNOW by April Pulley Sayre

With its stunningly beautiful nature photographs and simple but lovely text, this children's nonfiction title will appeal to everyone. Explore the snowfall in the forest as it sifts, drifts, dusts a duck and settles on a squirrel. The photos range from wildlife to lovely landscapes to spectacular close-ups, and the poetic text is full of alliteration, rhyme and rich vocabulary. Scientific information about snow is included in the back. This book will make everyone eager to go outside and enjoy nature, as does Sayre's companion title, Raindrops Roll. FOR AGES 2-7

RANGER IN TIME: RACE TO THE SOUTH POLE by Kate Messner

Ranger in Time is a great new early chapter book series that will appeal to fans of the Magic Tree House volumes. Ranger is a golden retriever with search-and-rescue training who has found an old first aid kit with magic properties. The kit sends Ranger through time and space to help children who are lost or on difficult journeys. In this title, Ranger befriends Jack, a cabin boy for Captain Scott on the Terra Nova, on a dangerous race to the South Pole. The crew encounters breaking ice, freezing blizzards and other terrible dangers. Historical information about the time period and the real explorers is included, along with lots of ideas for further reading to keep the learning going. FOR AGES 7-10

JULIA VANISHES by Catherine Egan

Julia has an unusual ability-she can choose to not be seen-not to be truly invisible, but unnoticed. It's useful in her line of work as a thief and a spy. But it's dangerous in a city that has banned all forms of magic and conducts public drownings of witches. Julia has made a little family for herself of fellow eccentrics and thieves, but she leaves them for a new, well-paying job. She will infiltrate the mansion of the mysterious Mrs. Och, spy on her strange guests and report back everything she finds to her unknown employer. At the same time, a merciless killer is stalking the streets of the frozen city, hunting a witch and her young child. As the plot twists, Julia encounters and conducts betrayals, witnesses and performs terrible deeds, and must find her own hidden strengths, both moral and magical. FOR TEENS

-Laura Nawojchik, Youth Services Librarian, Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

App

LIPA THEATER: STORY MAKER by Lipa Learning

This simple-to-use app is rich with creative possibilities. Children choose their characters, then add settings and props and make directorial decisions from the weather to the background music.

The characters are appealing and diverse, and move their floppy limbs like marionettes when animated. The settings range from space to the Old West to a photo of your choosing. And the directions a story can go are unlimited.

The Theater School portion of the app instructs children on its use while also pushing them to consider such aspects as character motivation in their creations. The My Story portion lets them get right in and start creating.

Finished animations can be saved and shared. This app is a good choice to strengthen your child's imagination and narrative skills. It is available in eight languages and costs $2.49 in the Google Play store and $2.99 on iTunes.