CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
Joan Clark. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $16.95.
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 3-5.
Review by Andrea Szilagyi.
Reviewed from Prepublication Copy.
Sammy put on his jacket and boots, went outside and climbed the highest mountain, which happened to be the roof of his house.
When he reached the top, he looked down. Around him were other mountains, smoke curling skyward from a few.
Sammy imagined what was beneath the snow.
In short, Snow is about a boy who imagines. After watching the snow fall for a month, Sammy ventures into the outdoors, climbs up a snow pile and imagines what might be beneath the other heaps. From black bears to shipwrecks to Santa's workshop, Sammy creates all sorts of answers to satisfy his curiosity. Finally, the snow begins to melt, and his imaginative adventure comes to an end.
Though there is charm in the simplicity of this plot, some readers may find it a little slow: the snow falls for the first five pages, and Sammy doesn't go exploring until several pages after. The transition to his wild imaginings is somewhat abrupt but launches the book into an imaginative extravaganza. This is a simple book, and the theme is equally simple: the limitlessness of imagination.
With the backdrop of snow and the main focus on imagining what's underneath it, Sammy's character never quite comes alive. In addition, both parents are present in several illustrations, yet their presence seems to satisfy more of a subconscious comfort rather than narrative purpose.
In terms of the writing, the author uses several wonderful turns of phrase which give this book a poetic feel and make it a pleasure to read aloud.
Illustrations are in watercolour and ink on Arches hot-press water-colour paper with some oil stick and charcoal. The illustrative style is appropriate to the story and its moodóit reflects the dreamy, imaginative mood of the story with its softness and blended pallet. Shapes are mere suggestions in places, not fully formed images. While mainly reiterating the text, the illustrations do at times extend the story. For example, one section reads, "He imagined people in parkas building igloos," and the illustration restates the text, but it also pictures, what appears to be, the northern lightsóbright splashes of colour streaking upward in the sky. The illustrations add depth to an otherwise simple story, making it an evocative book for young children.
Andrea Szilagyi is a graduate student studying children's literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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