Where I live, we are deep in snow—real and imagined. At preschool, my 3-year-old is making a snowflake mobile. At home, this past weekend, we made crunchy footprints and a small, smiling snowman in the backyard. After watching the flakes fall from the kitchen window, we also enjoyed looking at the snow falling in the marvelous illustrations in Snow by Uri Shulevitz.
In recent posts, I’ve written about stories featuring winter themes and action, but when it comes to books that quietly celebrate magical snowy days, seen from a child’s perspective, two titles immediately come to mind: Ezra Jack Keats’ 1963 Caldecott Medal-winning The Snowy Day (still fresh and relevant today because it perfectly portrays how little children experience the wonders and joys of freshly fallen snow) and Snow, a 1999 Caldecott Honor book by Uri Shulevitz.
You’re probably familiar with Keats’ classic, but if you don’t know Shulevitz’s Snow, here’s a description. In what looks like a Russian city, a young boy and his dog survey the drab wintry scene outside an apartment window. ‘“It’s snowing,”’ he excitedly proclaims, spotting one lone snowflake in the gray sky. But his grandfather doesn’t think it will amount to anything: ‘“It’s only a snowflake.”’ Then the boy sees two snowflakes, then three, and more. But passersby, even the radio and TV, pooh-pooh his observation: ‘“It’s nothing…It’ll melt.”’ The boy, however, doesn’t let the adults dampen his enthusiasm and he scampers outside to play in the snow, “circling and swirling, spinning and twirling, dancing, playing, there, and there, floating, floating through the air, falling, falling everywhere.” There’s a wonderful fantasy sequence, in which Mother Goose characters from a nearby bookstore come to life and dance with the boy and his dog. Then, like the snowflakes, they float away—leaving the boy to enjoy his amazingly altered city. After finishing the book, you’ll want to flip back to the beginning to re-experience the story’s visual transformation—starting with overcast, leaden streets and moving on to white-dotted scenes of snow gradually accumulating until finally, we see a magical winter-white city against a crisp blue sky filled with new possibilities. Like The Snowy Day, Shulevitz’s Snow exudes quiet charm. It will enchant little ones while reminding older ones of life’s simpler pleasures.
Are you familiar with Snow or other books by Uri Shulevitz? Which is your favorite? Can you recommend other stories that celebrate snow from a child’s perspective?
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