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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
Meet January is a picture book written and illustrated by April Martin that has admirable emotional range. January loves to snuggle up in bed and loves her sleeping bag and having pretend campfires indoors. In other words, January loves being snuggly warm and pursuing all of the warm weather activities like picking flowers, being warmed by the sun, and seeing lovely green grass. Sadly though, winter break has ended and now January must head back to school after all her excuses for not being able to go – including pretending to be sick – don’t work on her mother. As she’s walking to school, January is convinced that it’s the coldest day in the history of cold days and by the time she reaches school, the unthinkable has happened and she has no idea what to do. Luckily her teacher does…
Martin’s protagonist, January (perhaps her name was inspired by the author’s own, named after the gentler month of April) is a little girl who, like most young children, characterizes her likes and dislikes in a very straightforward manner. Despite being named after what most would consider a winter month, January intensely dislikes the cold and has closed her mind to the possibility of even liking winter activities until her two friends come to the rescue, showing a deep well of empathy for their suffering friend. The other children in the class unfortunately aren’t as kind, making fun of January’s obvious discomfort. The children eventually band together as a group to solve January’s immediate problem and, thanks to January’s two friends, who have good listening skills, they use their ingenuity and imagination to do something wonderful for their friend. Given that the author is a teacher, it’s hardly surprising that the back of the book includes fun facts about the month of January as well as a number of discussion questions and even a recipe for snowman pancakes, January’s going-back-to-school breakfast. Meet January is a story about a child with a problem. Thanks to the author’s straightforward approach, it’s less a child’s story than it is a good story to which children will be able to relate.