Title: Big Snow
Author & Illustrator: Jonathan Bean
Publisher: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2013
Themes: Anticipation, excitement, first snowfall of season
“Mom,” said David, “when will it snow?” “I think soon,” said Mom. “Why don’t you help me make cookies while you wait?”
David finds it very hard to concentrate on all the household chores his Mom keeps suggesting he join in with. Snow clouds are gathering and he can’t wait for the first big snowfall of the season. Then naptime sweeps him into a dreamy snow flurry of its own, which is exactly the anticipation he needs for the arrival of the real thing once dad gets home.
Why I like this book:
What can I say? This is my fourth winter in New York and by early January the past three years, we had always had snow. Now, while I love winter sports, after 13 years living in Nice, where the winters are wonderfully mild, I never thought I would long for the first big snow of the season, but I totally get how antsy David is. With all the anticipation of last weekend’s blizzard of the century in New York, I kept checking the forecast and the skies and I was having trouble concentrating on other things. Any child, especially any that has grown up in wintry climes, will relate to this energy and anticipation. Whether you live in an urban, suburban or a rural environment the first flurry of flakes and then the steady flow from the skies promising a pristine white blanket, excite all the senses.
Bean creates a solid sense of place in the lives of the different families in David’s small town neighborhood. The images of snow falling capture the transition from the first small sprinkles to the steady pelting of dense ground-covering snow and the changing aspect of the skies captures the progression of the Big Snow Jonathan is hoping for. It is a simple but beautifully illustrated tribute to a young child’s love of snow and winter activities. The dance back and forth between cozy scenes helping Mom inside and the transformation of the outdoor landscape offer. Bean varies the illustrations from close ups of David helping his mother in their cozy home interiors to outdoor-scapes of their home and neighborhood as it transforms under the snow.
Young kids will recognize their routines of lunch with mom and naps and I am sure they will spot the gentle humor in many of the illustrations.
Also this is the sort of diversity I love to see in children’s books, where the African American identity of the family is incidental.
Have young children recount orally their first big snows, or snowfalls that brought everything to a stop.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.