Oh! by Kevin Henkes is about winter, about the clichéd winter that school children regardless of where the live are taught is winter. It's soft rolling snow, and snow bunnies, and squirrels hiding nuts, etc.
It's a dime a dozen type book. He has a newer book out, When Spring Comes that follows suit. There's melting snow. Things are waiting to grow. The trees are bare. Little baby animals come out to explore.
I can recite the plots of these types of books with my eyes closed. But for children here in California (and so many other places, too), these stories are un-relatable.
So imagine, instead, Oh! set in coastal California. The off shore winds of fire season have changed to an on shore, cooling breeze. A windy night strips the rest of the leaves, brown since early August, off. Fog becomes the normal morning and evening event — it blankets everything. Beautiful and hungry birds begin to show up at the feeding stations, as they spend their winter. Monarchs come to rest in the eucalyptus groves, painting the forest orange. Ladybugs head for the redwoods to sleep the winter in quiet solitude. Barn owls screech every night.
Oh! is that rain. Will we get enough this year? Will fire damaged areas wash away in mud and debris? How is the snowpack looking? Will it be enough for the water supply next year?
That is the California winter. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were pictures books that reflected alternate versions of winter?