Publishing: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 1998
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Description: A little boy sees a snowflake fall and proclaims, “It’s snowing!” His grandfather, several other people, the radio, and the television all say it will not snow, but it does, blanketing the city in white and making the boy happy. Shulevitz uses lots of white space, not illustrating full page pictures or leaving a thick white edge at the bottom where the text appears. The text is simple, without many adjectives or descriptions, while the people are instead named by descriptions, such as “man with hat” and “woman with umbrella”. Their appearance matches as they are almost caricatures.
Programming: There are a plethora of books about snow and winter so I’m not quite sure what to say about this one in particular, because it is simply about a boy’s enjoyment of snow, similar to Keats’ Snowy Day. See other entries for more ideas and curriculum connections.
Publishing: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, New York, 1988 (originally 1947)
Description: People of all ages and vocations know that snow is coming, and are affected in one way or another by its falling. After the snow blankets everything in white, it melts off and the same variety of people bask in the warm sunshine and know that spring is on its way. I love the color palette of the illustrations, because the bright yellow and red balance out the black, white, and grey. There is also a poem at the front of the book before the narrative ever begins, which is fun to read out loud.
Programming: I think I am a little burnt out on snow books. It seems like there are several that I have read, such as “The Big Snow” and “The Snowy Day.” Apparently winter is a good theme for picture books. Aside from the typical programming of cutting out paper snowflakes or discussing favorite games to play in the snow, perhaps children could craft acrostic poems of their own about snow.
Publishing: Macmillan, New York, 1948 (copyright renewed in 1976)
Awards: Caldecott Winner
Description: This book starts with geese flying south for the winter and many different types of animals observing this phenomenon and preparing in their own ways for winter. As winter arrives the days get shorter and a heavy, heavy snow falls. The animals each come out when it is over, and they feed on a banquet of seeds put out by a little old lady who lives on the edge of the woods. Finally, a groundhog comes up on a sunny February 2nd and pronounces that there will be six more weeks of winter. The drawings jump between black and white and color. The geese are beautifully incorporated as a border on the first few pages, and small illustrations are interspersed with text on a couple of pages. The endpapers are a gorgeous teal blue with large, white snowflakes.
Programming: This book focuses on animals preparing for the winter, so students might discuss or write about things that they or their parents do to prepare for the winter or for a snow storm. Students might make a pine cone bird feeder or otherwise feed some of the animals such as the ones in the story. Finally, the text mentions a groundhog, so this might be a good book to read on groundhog’s day to explain the tradition.
Publishing: The Viking Press, New York, 1962
Awards: Caldecott Medal
Description: Peter wakes up to find snow on the ground. He puts on his little red snow suit (that causes him to slightly resemble a teletubby), and plays in the snow. He walks to see his footprints, makes snow angels, and slides down the hill. Later that night he dreams that the sun melts all of the snow, but he wakes up the next to find that not only is the old snow not gone, but new snow is falling. He goes out to play again.
This book is interesting because it seems to lack a conflict and resolution. The illustrations are very simple, with bursts of texture in Peter’s pajamas and his mother’s dress.
Programming: A good story to read before a winter break. Students can talk about their own favorite activities in the snow and write a story about a time they played in the snow. There are also tons of snow/snowman crafts out there.
Illustrated by Mary Azarian
Publishing: Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1998
Awards: Caldecott Medal Winner
Description: This book is a biography of Wilson Bentley, who devoted his life to photographing and studying snowflakes. Illustrations have shapes bordered with thick black lines and the text is somewhat disjointed as it switches between facts in blue panels on the side, and narrative on the pages themselves.
Programming: This would be the perfect book to use in the winter time and cut out paper snowflakes, because each one would likely be different, just like real snowflakes. I like the quote at the end from Bentley himself about how his work was just as important as farmer’s quarts of milk. That might be an important point to discuss with older students.
Publishing: Philomel Books, New York, 1987
Awards: Caldecott Medal
Description: A little girl goes owling with her father. Illustrations contain a lot of blue, black, and white hues, but vary dramatically in perspective. The text is somber and consistent.
Programming: Scholastic gives a wonderful way to tie-in the different perspectives in the illustrations: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/owl-moon-extension-activities