________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover The Snow Show.

Carolyn Fisher.
New York, NY: Harcourt (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2008.
42 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-15-206019-0.

Subject Headings:
Television broadcasting-Fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

*** /4


Watch as the water turns from liquid... to invisible water vapor in the air.

[Chef Kelvin says] 'I hate evaporating! Why can't I have a stuntman like other TV Chefs?'


This is called EVAPORATION

Water vapor is an invisible gas, like a fart is an invisible gas. (But water vapor doesn't smell bad.)


Carolyn Fisher's newest book is about a single episode of a televised cooking show called "The Snow Show." It features sous-chefs Jack Frost and Snow White, producer Carolyn Fisher who is pictured wearing a wireless headset and holding either a megaphone or a clapper board, a live audience, and Chef Kelvin. Chef Kelvin, whose name certainly derives from the Kelvin thermodynamic temperature scale, is a carrot-nosed, button-eyed, yarn-mouthed, three-section snowman with tree branch arms. He wears a lime green, flower patterned apron, an oven mitt on his left "hand" and a white chef's hat on his snowball head. As in all cooking shows, the chef in Fisher's book is the main character. Unlike TV chefs, however, Chef Kelvin also happens to be one of the main ingredients.

internal art

     As the title suggests, the show focuses on the 'ingredients' necessary for cooking "up a fresh batch of snow." Chef Kelvin and his sous-chefs begin with water, a cold wind, specks of dust, and heat from the sun. They watch as the Sun's heat evaporates the water and also changes solid Chef Kelvin into a Chef Kelvin composed of water vapor, the "invisible gas" mentioned in the excerpt above. In the illustrations, created by Fisher, readers see what was once a white snowman turn into a ghost-like image of upward pointing arrows within a dashed contour that has the somewhat altered shape of the once snowman Chef. As he is carried higher and higher into the atmosphere, Jack Frost and Snow White, who travel in a hot air balloon, tag along. In the pages that follow, readers are introduced to condensation, cloud formation, freezing, deposition and the formation of snow crystals that eventually get so heavy that they fall from the clouds, land on the ground and, on occasion, are rolled into snow balls. Voila! Chef Kelvin is a solid once more.

     The Snow Show is an imaginative book, with a commercial break, "deleted scenes," "bloopers," extras, illustrations and fonts that will appeal to many preteens. Fisher is certainly trying to help early adolescents understand very complex phenomena associated with stages of the water cycle, and her book is a good fit with the Manitoba Grade 5 weather cluster. However, without input from knowledgeable parents and teachers, I'm not convinced that Fisher's illustrated story will be as meaningful, as one might first imagine, in developing readers' understanding of the atmospheric conditions that are necessary for snow to occur.

     In the hands of a creative teacher, The Snow Story could be the impetus for eliciting students' scientific understanding using pictorial means and dramatic role-play. It also provides the data necessary for students to test the effect of two variables (water vapor in the air and air temperature) on the shape of snow crystals formed. This is an investigation that could easily be carried out during snowy school days, and that would expose students to the amazing variety of dendrites, plates, columns, and needles that we know as snow.


Barbara McMillan is a teacher educator and a professor of science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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

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