________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 8. . . .October 28, 2016


The Snow Knows.

Jennifer McGrath. Art by Josée Bisaillon.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover & pdf, $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77108-441-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77108-442-0 (pdf).

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4



The snow knows…
Where the fox trots
Where the partridge hides, where the otter slides.
The snow knows where the lynx slinks
And the coyotes choir.


Imagine looking out the window of a rural home on a winter’s day. All may seem still and quiet, but on closer inspection the outdoors is alive with woodland creatures that leave their imprints on the snow. Those marks tell stories, and this picture book captures the trails and tales in simple language and engaging illustrations to delight youngsters.

     Short phrases easily conjure action images with verb choices— sleeps, bounds, run, trots, hides, slides, slinks, choir—and rich figurative language. There’s alliteration (coyotes choir), consonance (lynx slinks), assonance (snow knows, goes), rhyme (partridge hides, otter slides), onomatopoeia (hush-shush, pitter-skitter), metaphor (coyotes choir). Read aloud, the prose poem draws the reader into its calming rhythm, easy to remember sounds and sensory detail. This effect is broken once, with the expression “porcupine ponders”, a slightly tougher word choice for kids and the only abstract concept. The domestic cat and child brought in at the end bring satisfying engagement and inclusion.

     Illustrations done in paper collage and soft colour (pencils?) lead the reader on to the next page with a cleverly placed animated critter or movement toward the right side. Depth is created with a layered effect. There’s drama with the positioning of snowy owl wings fanned out across the double page spread, excitement with the narrow escape of mice from a predatory owl, humour with the fox’s leap and otters’ play, and mystery with the cautious lynx and howling coyote choir.

     Young readers will enjoy return visits to this quiet book with its invitation to imagine the lives and activities of outdoor creatures in winter. Perhaps a good bedtime story, it will leave them with a sense of wonder about the natural world.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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