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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Any Port In The Storm: Cozy by Jan Brett


Cozy was accustomed to being in a herd, surrounded by his whole family. In the coldest winter, the musk oxen always circle round the youngest, their long, silken coats flowing down to their hooves, to keep everyone safe and warm.

But in this storm, Cozy finds himself all alone. Or is he?

"... In a tussock, a mother lemming's pups were squeaking. "I'm cold, I'm cold, I'm cold." She used a triple carry to tunnel toward a new spot ... where they settled next to the towering mountain of fur. "Shhh...." she whispered. "Quiet voices, and that musk ox will never notice us."

Soon a snowshoe hare comes along and begs a spot beneath Cozy's fur. Cozy is glad for the company, and allows him in. But soon a snowy owl, caught in a mighty downdraft of icy wind, crash lands right into Cozy's head. Cozy grants the snowy white bird sanctuary, but knowing her dietary habits, he sets up house rules for his tenants:

"Quiet voices, no thumping, claws to yourself!"

As the frozen winter goes on, Cozy finds himself sheltering many more creatures of all kinds. Arctic fox and wolverine must promise "no biting," but then along comes a sea otter driving a team of sled dogs with a wolfish look about them. Cozy brandished his big horns and gives the whole group an order:
"Be mindful of others!"

But arctic winters are long. Cozy's tenants get restless and his house rules start to slip. One day when the growing lemmings are climbing up his fur, a big patch of it falls out! That means only one thing. It's spring, and it's time for everyone to check out of their winter digs under Cozy's big tent. He sets off to find his herd and is greeted happily by his family. But the departing lemmings have the last word--

"Meet you when the snow flies, Cozy!"

In a novel version of the "There's always room for one more" trope, Jan Brett has brought us one of her sweetly charming snow stories, illustrated beautifully in her trademark style of elaborate frames decorated with hints of what is to come, in her latest picture book, Cozy (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2020). Cozy's generosity is heartwarming, and the case of cabin fever that ensues in this story of "sheltering in place" will ring true to both adults and children waiting for spring through this winter. This is a totally timely tale, told by a master storyteller.  In their insightful review, Kirkus Reviews says, "This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial."

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