First Snow: Cub's Big World by Sarah L. Thompson
CUB KNEW ALL ABOUT THE WORLD.
IT WAS SMOOTH
INSIDE THE WORLD WERE MOM
AND THAT WAS ALL.
For a newborn cub, just opening her eyes, her den, dug deep in the snow and snug and warm with Mom's big furry body surrounding her, is a fine world, but a very small one.
But when Mom amazingly pokes a hole in that world and leads Cub outside, her concept of the world is transformed. There is so much light, yellow and bright, that Cub has to blink and blink until her eyes grow used to it. The sky is a color that is totally new. Mom says it's called "blue."
Cub climbs a small hill. It's hard, but when she gets to the top, she suddenly slips and slides down the other side!
FAST! FAST! FAST!
THE WORLD IS FUN!
Now Cub can't wait to see what the whole world is like. But where is Mom in all this whiteness? Then she remembers Mom has a black nose. Cub sets out toward something black.
She meets big, black ravens who squawk at her, ermine with black tips on their tails who swish away, and then, looking down into a hole in the ice, into the deep green water, she sees the flash of a black seal who dives deep under the sea. It's all very exciting, but when Cub looks up again, she can't see anything but snow and more snow. Where is Mom?
THE WORLD WAS TOO BIG!
Sarah Thompson's Cub's Big World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) makes creative use of her polar snowcap setting in this lovely exploration of the familiar "little runaway" theme. Thompson's full-bleed pages portray the many colors of the arctic world--blinding white in the sun, cool icy blue in the shadows, and multicolored under the colors of the Northern Lights. Cub is small but central in this snowscape as she bravely sets out to explore her environment. Being alone in that big world is truly scary, but young readers will spot Mom keeping watch at a distance until she senses that her cub is ready for her mom to reappear and restore her perspective on the world.
This is an old story, (much older even than Peter Rabbit) told in spare but lyrical language, depicted in distinctive and exquisite illustrations which show Cub's enlarging world from a variety of perspectives. It is also one that is a metaphor for the young child, whose world grows with each exploration, especially with a parental presence to make sure each experience is good for the youngster's growing understanding. Horn Book's reviewer says, "The suspense is toddler-perfect, with Mom appearing the moment it all becomes too much. . . Lap-sit ready, with a built-in hug at the end."