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Thursday, October 17, 2019

My Winter City, words by James Gladstone and pictures by Gary Clement. Groundwood Books, 2019. $19.95 ages 3 and up

"It holds warmth a little closer
to our skin and our bellies,
and time a little slower, tying
laces, pulling mittens ...

trudging, huffing creatures
move at the sluggish speed
of snow.

My winter city is a soup of
salty slushes, full of sliding ... "

I had a plan to post this wonderful book much later in the season ... then, a Thanksgiving weekend winter storm practically closed down our province. It left plenty of homes without power, hip-deep drifts, clogged streets and highways, thousands of trees bent and broken, and many abandoned and dented cars. Although the snow is melting, it is taking its time under cloudy skies. I know we have some fall weather left to come but, it has left many dreading what might be next and last for a much longer time.

Two urban inhabitants here are keen to get out and see the sights following a winter storm. The streets are winter-white; the cars are covered in a deep layer, a man and his dog make tracks along a pristine snowy sidewalk, and still the snow falls. It is s wonderland to many!

The boy and his father (with their dog) bundle up in parkas, woolen socks, snow boots, scarves, toques, and mittens. Their dog anticipates a walk. Off they go. Dad has the toboggan in hand while the son trudges behind his dog. Buses splash slush on pedestrians as they wait to board. Everywhere there are signs of people on their way somewhere.

Their day is filled with the wonders of snow and its many differing scenes. After making it to the sledding hill and enjoying its excitement, they make their way back home.

"My winter city is an afternoon journey
past side-walk singers in shivery shadows,
past winter workers with hot steaming chocolate,
past rows of locked bicycles, buried and waiting,

back where we came from ... backwards sledding.

Jump up,
hang up,
warm up,

The author ends with an invitation to readers to tell him what their winter city is like.

Gary Clement designs the endpapers and full spreads with wintry scenes that are sure to be familiar to those who experience the wonderland that a storm brings. Perspectives change, adding details that give context  to James Gladstone's family story celebrating the many joys of a 'snow day'.

It won't be long until we will all have our own stories to share. In fact, kids here could write one now.

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