RED SLED

By Lita Judge

Atheneum, $16.99. Ages 2-5

Commuters curse. Grown-ups groan. But kids can’t wait to sled, slide, slip and, yes, even to shovel (for a few minutes, at least) before they’re off to throw snowballs and build snowmen. “Scrinch scrunch scrinch scrunch scrinch scrunch” begins this almost wordless story of a bear who, on a starlit night, spots a bright red sled leaned up against the outside wall of a cabin. “Hrmmm?” quickly leads to “Roooooooooooooeoeoee,” as bear climbs aboard and coasts downhill, with a small white rabbit in his lap. Before long, it’s “Alley-oop” in the snow and then “Gadung, Gadung, Gadung,” as a moose jumps into the driver’s seat (with bear riding on his antlers). One by one, opossums, raccoons, a porcupine and a mouse join the topsy-turvy crew until the sled’s owner — a red-hatted child (first glimpsed on the cover) — emerges from the cabin to join the fun. Each double-page spread features a serene snowscape bathed in moonlight, the perfect foil for the explosive humor of the animals’ antics. For children who want to dig below the surface, “Over and Under the Snow,” by Kate Messner (Chronicle, $16.99), shows exactly what goes on beneath that icy crust as a father and child ski through a woodland landscape that is as carefully designed as it is beautiful.

”Red Sled” by Lita Judge. (Atheneum)