Four Picture Books to Capture the Magic of Snow
“It’s snowflaking!” my youngest shouts every time the snow flies. There is such joy and wonder in his simple expression that I can’t help but turn my face to the sky to catch some of that magic. It’s the same magic that has called all my kids outside, bright and early, after that first snowfall, still in their jammies and wild bedhead, just to get their mittened hands on snow, to catch flakes on their tongue, to grab a sled and go barreling down the hill. Four new picture books capture a bit of that snowflake magic – the quiet, the impermanence, the beauty, the thrill. So when your rosy-cheeked children have returned from a world of winter white, have donned dry socks and are nestled in the warmth of family, share a story of snow. And remember, spring is just a season away.
In Big Snow, David awaits the coming of a winter storm, hoping for the first big snow of the season. He tries to help his mother with holiday housecleaning, but each task reminds him of snow, from the flour that goes into the cookie dough, to the suds in the bathtub, to the crisp, white sheets. His excited anticipation keeps drawing him outside to check the skies. When his mother tells him to take a nap, David dreams of a giant blizzard, with snow drifts piling up in the living room. He wakes to his Dad’s footfalls and the real storm in full swing. The straight-forward storyline and soft watercolor illustrations portray a tender and warm family life, while capturing the excitement and anticipation of the first big snow.
Big Snow written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-374-30696-0
Patricia MacLachlan and Steven Kellogg, both long-time kid book creators, collaborated on a tribute to children everywhere, with a heartfelt nod to the young victims of Sandy Hook, CT, in their new picture book, Snowflakes Fall. Kellogg has a personal connection to Sandy Hook, having lived there for 35 years, raising his family, creating dozens of books in his farmhouse studio, while being inspired by the area’s woodlands, fields, and streams. His joyful illustrations of children in a changing landscape fill the book from end to end and reflect the story’s message of individual uniqueness and natural impermanence. MacLachlan’s lyrical poem describes seasonal cycles of loss and renewal with a subtle metaphor emerging of life’s same loss and renewal. The end papers show twenty snow angels lifting off a hillside and rising into the moonlit sky.
Snowflakes Fall written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Published by Random House, 2013. ISBN: 0385376936.
In When It Snows, a young boy and his teddy bear follow footsteps through a snow-covered landscape where cars are stuck and the train has disappeared. Out of this magical terrain appear polar bears and giant snowmen, the Queen of the Poles, elves and Santa Claus. Lush, moody paintings portray a somewhat eerie but enchanting wonderland, while just a few words per page carry the simple storyline. At the end, the boy explains how he can have this adventure everyday by jumping into the pages of his favorite book, which just happens to be the same one readers have in their own hands.
When It Snows by Richard Collingridge. Published by Feiwel & Friends, 2013. ISBN: 978-1250028310
In Winter Is For Snow, big brother is ecstatic about the snow that has fallen overnight, while his younger sister is the polar opposite. In short rhyming quips, they banter back and forth about their divergent feelings of winter. She begrudgingly allows him to help her into her snow gear and head out into an urban landscape transformed by winter white. Slowly, the younger sister changes her mind about winter, catching some of that magic while tasting flakes and sledding at the local hill. Hot cocoa and a pleasing fire bring a warm ending to a snowy adventure.
Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker. Published by Disney-Hyperion, 2013. ISBN: 978-1423178316
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.