Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story introduces young readers to the science of why and how animals go to sleep for the winter. In this bedtime story, follow a child and his grandma through a winter landscape, to explore how the Earth goes to sleep.
Spot the sleeping animals as the tale unfolds, then learn of their hibernation habits, at the information pages at the end of the book. In the frosty quiet forest, the snow blankets the ground and the trees have shed their leaves. Where have all the animals gone? Are they asleep too?
Children will find underground dens with sleeping creatures, and animals nesting in the hollow trunks of trees. After the story, annotated illustrations explain the hibernation facts for each animals, and shows what they will do, when they wake up for spring.
In chilly places – bats spend most of the winter hanging upside down, snoozing in their roost. They store up warm fat on their backs and bellies, to give them energy.
A hedgehog builds a nest of leaves in winter. Often under a shed but sometimes also in old rabbit burrows or under compost heaps. As it sleeps rolled in a tight ball, a hedgehog’s body temperatures drops from around 95 degrees F to about 41 degrees F.
A grass snake finds a sheltered refuge underground (or in a deep pile of leaves or compost), and sleeps in a winter resting place called a hibernaculum.
The Arctic woolly bear lives in the chilliest place on earth. Every year this bear wakes up for just one month, then sleeps for all the rest of its 15 year long life!
Which English Animals Hibernate?
There are only three mammals that hibernate in England: hedgehogs, dormice and bats. Be careful if you are knocking down old sheds etc, as climate change means often little hogs etc are still inside. Wait a good time after ‘official waking up’ before commencing work, to make all sleeping and birthed creatures have safely left to go off to their new spring lives.
Hibernation is not so much falling asleep, it’s about slowing the heart rate down to less than 10 beats per minute and slowing the breathing. Hibernating mammals have internal controls so they don’t get too cold, and the animal will wake up, if it does get freezing cold. Although we don’t hibernate, sometimes in winter it’s good to almost do so. Get a cup of hot tea, snuggle up in a blanket on the sofa, and watch vintage Columbo episodes!
About the Authors
Sean Taylor is an award-winning writer of over 50 books for young children and lives with his family in Bristol. Alex Morss is an ecologist, science journalist and educator who spend many years as a naturalist. Illustrator Cinyee Chiu was raised in Taiwan and graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art.