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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Big Snow, written and illustraten by Jonathan Bean. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2013. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"So David helped Mom clean.
He put on the big yellow gloves.
He sprayed the cleaner.
He scrubbed with the heavy
But then the suds, white and
fluffy, made him think of snow.
So David decided to check the
The flakes were lying,
white and fluffy."

It's been a long time since I experienced the joyous anticipation for a 'big snow'. Our kids are grown and gone from home; I am a hesitant old(er) woman when it comes to the perils of icy roads and sidewalks. The joy that I feel, when it's stormy and lots of snow is falling, comes from not 'having' to go out in it anymore. It seems a perfect excuse to curl up with great books by the fireplace and let the flakes fall where they may.

Jonathan Bean, on the other hand, knows just exactly how it feels, or he certainly conjures up all of those feelings I remember from an earlier life in his wonderful new book, Big Snow. Our first glimpse of David sees him standing in the backyard, all bundled up and his mittened hand holding his sled's rope. He seems sad. His mother has her eye on him from the kitchen window. The family is prepared. The plant pots are empty and stored upside down beside a snow shovel on the back porch. The yard is raked. The bird feeder is full. There is darkness in the clouds. If you have grown up where winter is a natural occurrence, you will know exactly the sky I mean. There is no snow...yet!

And that is the first double page spread!

He goes inside to seek his mother's guidance on the 'when'. She has no definitive answer for him. So, David settles to help Mom bake some cookies. Seeing all the flour sends him outside to check the weather. Wahoo...soft, white flakes fall gently to the ground. It's not enough. Back inside to clean the bathroom. Soap suds remind him of ....

The snow is staying! Sheets need changing, but they are WHITE. What a distraction! Yep, there's more, but David is tired and ready for a nap. His dreams are filled with images of the coming storm. When Dad arrives home and David wakes from his nap, being outside is the only way to discover whether it is as he anticipated. What do you think?

I am such a fan of Jonathan Bean's work and eagerly await any new book. He creates such a detailed world for this little boy with his high hopes, his boundless energy and his satisfaction that finally all is just right in his world. The artist's bird's-eye views of the yard and the neighborhood where David lives helps readers see just how the 'big snow' comes to be. His story is full of the warmth of family love and a cozy home. The details are endless and will allow for extended discussion. There is so much joy, the reader cannot help but be captivated by it all!

There is magic to be had here! Don't miss it...



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