Published in 1950, I Like Winter, with its bold colours and thickly outlined cast of rosy cheeked American children, has all the hallmarks of a mid-century classic.
The sweet rhyming text lists all the things that are lovely about the season: snow, trees, presents, Jesus etc. How delightful.
Then I try reading it out loud and find that the monotonous repetition, combined with the blank eyed expressions causes the characters to take on a darker aspect.
Look at the faces of the candy cane kids, and you might notice a hint of malice.
Then the family arrives, and you realise that something’s definitely not right. You are now entering David Lynch country.
‘I like people who come to stay,‘ it says. So do I, but not when they look as wicked as this bunch. As Stepford mom busies herself with the dishes, let’s take a closer look at the dream American family.
Father, I suspect uses the lengthy commute into the city to disguise a long running series of romps with office boys and dockers. Grandpa perhaps prefers a pointed white hooded cloak to the traditional red one. And Uncle has quite possibly murdered someone recently. Also I’m not sure if that really is a turkey. Do they usually have such long arms?
I don’t read music but if I could I’d probably find that the sheet music that accompanies the story sounds like something Bernard Herrmann might have come up with.
I Like Winter is a deeply chilling read.
3 thoughts on “I Like Winter by Lois Lenski”
The slightly malign expressions of the individuals in these illustrations remind me of nothing so much as Beek’s pictures for Blyton’s Noddy books — it’s the smile combined with the fierce eyebrows that create that impression — and, like you with Lenski’s illustrations, I always found them ever so slightly creepy. And that 50s vibe of the happy family with everybody knowing their place is not one that sits well with us now. (Though I note that, while the girl is encouraged to give presents and the boy to receive, he at least brings the girl breakfast in bed — perhaps a hint of changing attitudes?)
The music. To be honest, the tune is very bland and lacklustre, something a Key Stage 3 student could come up with. But, played with an ominous background it could indeed chill: there’s an innocent treble theme in the Jaws title music played against the menacing bass tick-tock of the shark ostinato which works exactly like that. (The jaunty tune like a nursery rhyme in the first minute or so of the following clip gives you an idea.)
Spectacular analysis, thank you Chris. You’re absolutely right about Beek’s Noddy pictures too – very creepy. As for the little boy bringing his sister breakfast in bed, I like to think he’s poisoning her.
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Yes, I thought that too as I was writing the comment!