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Monday, December 8, 2014

Blizzard, written and illustrated by John Rocco. Disney Hyperion, Hachette. 2014. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"On the third day,
Dad shoveled the driveway
so he could get the car out
when the snowplows came.

We dug tunnels
and secret rooms
under the snow."

In this terrific book that will surely find fans with children who live where snow can sometimes overwhelm (think Buffalo, this year), John Rocco shares a story from his childhood.

It was 1978. It happened in Rhode Island where John lived as a child. By the time it had finished snowing, there were 53 inches on the ground! (The latest numbers from Buffalo range anywhere from 60 to 84 inches.) I can't even fathom it, and I have lived on the Canadian prairies for my whole life.

As so often happens with winter storms, it began slowly... on a Monday morning when the children were in school. As they watched out the window, we see the glee they were feeling. School let out early, the children plowed through an ever growing accumulation. It didn't stop all day or all night. John, in fact, wondered if it might ever stop falling.

By the time the storm ended, the family could not get out their front door; they used the window. It was almost impossible to make any headway. They sank deep into it, their sleds would not run on top of the snow either. They dug their way in, relaxed in front of the fire and pondered the next few days. Careful observation allows a hint at what is to come as our young protagonist is reading a book, appropriately titled Arctic Survival. No plows by the fourth day, and Dad was getting tired of shoveling. Not only that, food supplies were dwindling, tempers were growing short, and a plan to get to a store was becoming crucial.

The budding explorer formulated that plan, with help from his book learning. Now, it was time to put the plan into action. List in hand, equipment at the ready, and numerous stops along the way ensured that waiting out the storm's aftermath would be easier for all. Well done, intrepid explorer! 

What wonder and power is to be found in Mother Nature! In this newest book, and with humor and resolution, Mr. Rocco portrays both the beauty and the chaos that such a weather event can cause for those living through it. I love how he incorporates the days of the week into his artwork, and how he uses contrasting warm and cool colors to give feeling to the scenes shown both inside the house and outside. Oh, and that foldout that marks the trek taken to bring needed supplies to all and sundry is pure delight! It wasn't all hard work, was it?


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