Books that entice kids to frolic in the snow
A review of four books that highlight the joys of winter
There has certainly been no shortage of snow this winter. Whether to the delight of some or the displeasure of others, many of us may forget what a magical experience this season can be, especially for children. From making snow angels and building snowmen to firing snowballs at friends and pushing each other into mountains of the white stuff, it can add up to a lot of fun for little ones. Here are some books that celebrate the wonders of winter.
The Snowy Day (Puffin Books, $10.99)
by Ezra Jack Keats – Ages 3-5
This is a great time of year to introduce children to this classic story about a little boy experiencing the first snowstorm of the year. He heads outside all dressed up in his bulky red snowsuit to discover the fresh snow that has just fallen. He makes snow angels, climbs hills, makes funny footprints and partakes in all the other joys that come with the first snow fall. First published in 1962, this book won the Caldecott medal (for the most distinguished American picture book for children). It is no surprise that this book has endured so long as it perfectly captures the natural playfulness that snow brings out in children.
I Have to Go! (Annick Press, $7.99)
by Robert Munsch – Ages 3-6
Canadian children’s author Robert Munsch is known for his amusing tales and this is one of his funniest and most endearing. Andrew’s parents always ask if he has to go to the bathroom before they go through the lengthy process of dressing him up to go outside. Initially he says “no” but he inevitably changes his mind just as his folks have bundled him up in his coat, snow pants, hat, scarf and mittens. His parents then race against time as they hurry to get him undressed. In the character of Andrew, Munsch channels the free spirit that inhabits children and can sometimes frustrate parents. Children will relate to the ordeal of getting into a snowsuit, whereas parents will identify with the annoyance of having to get it off at lightning speed.
Once Upon a Northern Light (Groundwood Books, $17.95)
by Jean E. Pendziwol – Ages 4-7
There is something almost mystical about going to sleep at night and waking up to mounds of snow covering the ground and snow-covered branches in the trees. This book traces the moments during the night when the snow is falling. Crafted as a lullaby, the rhythm of the book’s verses feel exactly like the delicate snowfall that they are describing. “Once upon a northern light, pine trees held out prickly hands to catch the falling flakes that gathered into puffs of creamy white.” The narrator recounts to a sleeping child the stages of a nighttime snowfall beginning with that first small flake until the sky is completely filled and the amount of snow blanketing the ground keeps growing and growing. Animals play and the windows become painted with feathers of frost. By the time the child wakes up, the world outside looks exactly like what was told in the lullaby. The soft illustrations bring to life the beautiful glow of the white snow against the dark night sky. This is a great bedtime story, especially on the night of a snowstorm.
Twelve Kinds of Ice (HMH Books for Young Readers, $9.99)
by Ellen Bryan Obed – Ages 6 -9
Ice skating is a consummate part of growing up Canadian, and this book is an ode to the surface that makes it possible. The author describes the various stages that ice passes through to become thick and safe enough to skate on. She mentions field ice, when frost and ice overtake the blades of grass, and black ice, which forms fast and solid and disappears just as quickly. The most anticipated, however, is once the garden is covered in ice and can be turned into a rink. She then describes the steps her father goes through to transform the bumpy ice into the smooth surface required for skating. It transports readers to a time and place when every aspect of the great outdoors was valued and meant to be enjoyed. It is hard not to get caught up in the author’s enthusiasm for skating whether it is on a lake or a city rink. After reading this book, kids will hopefully want to strap on a pair of skates and glide along the ice.