Chirri and Chirra: The Snowy Day

As Chirri and Chirra: The Snowy Day begins, the indistinguishable, ever-bicycling girls featured in two previous picture books consider the season's first snowfall a fine time for a ride. While pedaling through the woods, they spot a door made of ice. It opens into a café, where animals serve them hot punch. Chirri and Chirra proceed on their bikes through the icy structure, arriving at a great hall, where animals are enjoying activities like knitting, reading and napping. The girls join a game of marbles, which are "the frozen buds of many kinds of flowers," after which everyone heads to an indoor hot spring, where Chirri and Chirra submerge themselves and their marbles--"The water, now scented with flowers, is just the right temperature." Next up: sugar-sprinkled, rainbow-colored steamed buns. Although they're tired from their arduous afternoon of eating, marble play and aromatherapy, the girls follow everyone outdoors and end up snuggling with some bears in their igloo and watching shooting stars through a skylight.
Kaya Doi is on to something with her fantastical-nonsensical Chirri and Chirra books. While spa treatments and allaying stress may seem like grown-up interests, modern-day kids are living in an adult-made world of media supersaturation and technological pyrotechnics; the Chirri and Chirra books allow young readers to escape into an adult- and complication-free dreamscape of animals, sweets and unimpeded fun. Each of Doi's prettily delicate, pointillism-precise illustrations seems to be topped with a gauzy scrim, as if in effort not to overtax beleaguered young readers. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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