I originally posted this review on November 13, 2012. I decided to repost it today because much of New England is experiencing quite a snow event and this book perfectly captures the transformative nature of snow and all its magic.
Ages 2 to 8
By Uri Shulevitz
1999 Caldecott Honor Book
I love when it snows. Truthfully, I cannot recall a single time in my life where I was not euphoric at the mere prospect of falling snow. I grew up in Syracuse, New York where the annual snowfall is the highest in the country, so that’s a lot of excitement. I’m telling you this because the enthusiasm I feel about the book Snow is almost as strong as my love for actual snow.
Uri Shulevitz published his first book in 1963. In 1969 he won the Caldecott Award for The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship and has published multiple books since. Born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised in Paris and Israel, an old world feel seems to seep into all his work. Comprised of tall, narrow, attached buildings facing an open square, the town featured in Snow is no exception.
Shulvitz’s watercolor illustrations superbly capture the murky atmosphere of the coming precipitation; the dampness of the air is almost palpable. Falling flakes of snow appear as delicate pinpoints of white in the dark sky. In the opening spread, the art covers only a portion of one page and shows the gray sky over the gray city. As the book progresses the art expands, until it finally covers an entire two-page spread.
The short, poetic text in this perfect story follows a small boy and his dog as snow begins to fall on the city.
Snow has not been predicted, but the snow cares not for predictions; it cares only about falling. One snowflake becomes three and, though they soon melt, there’s many more to follow. The boy and his dog head outside to enjoy the wondrous weather event but the townspeople, ignoring the flakes in front of them, dismiss the boy’s declarations of snow.
Before long, the snow is accumulating and the townspeople head to their homes for refuge.
Only the boy and his dog remain in the street, celebrating the glorious event. Some familiar characters from children’s stories—floating from the front of one of the town’s bookstores—join the jubilant pair.
The merrymakers dance and twirl in the snow as the whole city is blanketed in white.
“Snow,” said the boy.