Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snowflakes on My Mind (and in My Books)

I have a son who is desperate for snow. Not in the "I want a snow day" kind of way, but in that "I'm nearly six and have yet to spend any real time playing in this fabulous stuff" sort of way. As someone who grew up outside of Rochester, NY and then later lived in Buffalo, NY, I've had enough snow to last a lifetime. However, you can't blame a kid for wanting to build a snowman. It snowed once last winter, in November 2005, and of course, we had no mittens, snow pants, boots, or any other appropriate garb. Once I went out and bought them, the promise of snow disappeared.

This year, snow has been only hinted at, and like many parts of the country, we've experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As Virginia now braces (possibly) for what may be an inch or two of snow, I am quietly rooting for a snow day so that I can play in the snow with my son.

So, in homage to the fleeting white stuff, we have been reading lots of books about snow and winter. Here are some of our favorites.
  • Snowflake Bentley written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian - This Caldecott Medal winner tells the true story of Wilson Bentley, a farmer who spent his life photographing snowflakes. The Buffalo Museum of Science has a digital library of these amazing photographs. You can see them at The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection.
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz - Even though the adults believe that it will not snow, a boy and his dog don't give up hope. This is a Caldecott honor book that beautifully portrays the transformation of a city when it snows.
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats - What's not to love about this 1963 Caldecott Medal winner? Discover what happens when Peter awakens to find snow has fallen during the night.
  • In the Snow by Huy Voun Lee - When a young boy and his mother walk through a forest in the snow, his mother scratches Chinese characters with a stick. Words represented include tree, forest, pond, rest, rain, snow, sun, moon, sparkling, and bright. The glossary includes a cut-paper picture, the character, its meaning in English, a transcription in Mandarin Chinese, and pronunciations.
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs - A fantastic wordless picture book. A young boy builds a snowman, only to find that it comes to life in his dreams.
  • Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton - In the summer, Katy is a bulldozer. When winter comes, she waits for her big chance to clear snow in Geopolis, and boy, does she get it!
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett - Find out what happens to Nicki's lost mitten when a mole, rabbit, hedgehog, an owl, a badger, fox, and finally a bear seek refuge in it.
  • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert - I'm a big fan of Ehlert's artwork. This book on building a snow family shows that the "traditional" snowman can be improved upon!
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen - A young girl and her father go owling on a winter night, where they make their way through snow that is "whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl." Illustrated by John Schoenherr, this won the Caldecott Medal in 1988.
  • Charlie and Lola: Snow is My Favorite and My Best by Lauren Child - Charlie takes his little sister Lola out to play in the snow, but sadly, it has melted by the next day. When Lola is disappointed by this turn of events, Charlie tries to explain why snow is special.
  • Martin MacGregor's Snowman by Lisa Broadie Cook - Martin desperately wants to build a snowman, but what's a boy to do when the weather won't cooperate?
  • Snow by P.D. Eastman - This is the classic beginning reader about all the great ways to enjoy snow.
I could go on, but these are titles that top the list. Have I missed some great ones? I'm sure I have. Click away in the comments section and let me know about the beauties that I've overlooked.


  1. Tricia,

    I love snow stories. Here are some titles I like--in addition to the ones you listed:

    SNOW MUSIC--written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins

    IT'S SNOWING--written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

    THIS PLACE IN THE SNOW--written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond

    STRAIGHT TO THE POLE--written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

    TRACKS IN THE SNOW--written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee

    FIRST SNOW--written by Bernette Ford and illustrated by Sebastien Braun

    NAMES FOR SNOW--written by Judi K. Beach and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

    ALL YOU NEED FOR A SNOWMAN--written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Barbara Lavalee

    SNOWMEN AT NIGHT--written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner

  2. Hi Elaine,

    Thanks so much for the list. We also love Snowmen at Night and Snow Music. I will need to look at the others. As I started listing books, I found I thought that the list would go on forever, so I had to cut it somewhere. I suppose this is a great problem to have!

    Now that the groundhog has made his predictions, I'll need to start looking at spring and life cycle books.

    Thanks again.

  3. I liked J. Patrick Lewis's book "The Snowflake Sisters," too. It features some cool collage illustrations.