More Snow!


Susan puts on her cute fur trimmed parka and share some great snow books with us this week:

Just when you think winter couldn’t throw anything worse at you, it does. More snow! It means you have to wrestle your child into an uncomfortable (but adorable) puffy suit whenever you want to go to the store. It means your front hallway is cluttered with wet boots, hats, and gloves. And what, exactly, can you possibly do with the kids for a whole snow day trapped inside your house?

Maybe these books can help you take a step back and appreciate just what snow has to offer. Then, hopefully, you can take another step back, into a hot tub or a sauna…

A Winter Day, by Douglas Florian. This very simple book for younger children captures the essence of a good winter’s day. Each two-page spread contains only a few words, such as “A winter day. Cold and gray.” The slightly wobbly drawings show a family who lives in a log cabin with an old-fashioned stove and a grandfather clock. But their experience is just as relevant today: while life is cold outside, it’s cozy inside. The children go out and play, and when they come back, Mom is waiting with soup and a hot fire.

Snow, by Uri Shulevitz. Lovely, sophisticated cartoons depict snow in an Eastern European town. At first, the town is gray, with just one little speck of white in the gray sky. That’s enough for a little boy, who’s brightly colored and always in motion. “It’s snowing,” he says, excitedly. But as more snowflakes appear, everyone around him denies that snow is falling. Even the television declares, “No snow.” It’s easy to see the townspeople as a communist regime insisting on a “truth” that even a child can see is false. But the book can also be read as a metaphor for all the times any grownup is wrong. Sure enough, “Snowflakes keep coming and coming and coming,” and soon all the once-grim buildings are covered in a cheerful white.

Under the Snow, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. If you’re tired of looking at the snow out your window, try a different view – from underneath. Pretty watercolor illustrations show children playing on what looks like a blank field of snow. But the books zooms in on parts that people don’t – or can’t – see. Ladybugs hide in a stone wall, a vole tunnels under the snow, and a chipmunk curls asleep in a burrow. As the children skate on a frozen pond, the book dips below the surface to show fish in the cold water and a turtle buried in the mud. The book also casually and simply presents fascinating tidbits, such as the fact frogs can freeze solid and still survive!

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder, by Mark Cassino, with Jon Nelson, PhD. This book mixes scientific information with gorgeous, magnified pictures of individual flakes of snow. Starting with simple cartoons, the book illustrates how “Snow starts with a speck,” then “grows” into a crystal. The text is reasonably simple for slightly older children, though you may have to define words like “droplets.” The real stars of the book, however, are the magnified snowflakes, like blue and purple jewels. Kids and grownups alike can marvel at the star, plate, and column-shaped crystals. The truly desperate, er, scientific readers can even take the book outside for the clearly-explained project on catching and viewing snow crystals.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications. You will find links to all of her children’s book reviews on our Toys & Books page.

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