________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005

cover

Snow Amazing: Cool Facts and Warm Tales.

Jane Drake and Ann Love. Illustrated by Mark Thurman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2004.
80 pp., cloth, $26.99.
ISBN 0-88776-670-6.

Subject Heading:
Snow-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-14.

Review by Cheryl Archer.

*** /4

excerpt:

...you awake to a deep quiet. Your ears feel plugged and you swallow hard. Then you glance out the window and there it is--snow! Tons of it blanket the ground, muffling all sound. Birds flit around the bird feeder; it's white everywhere, not a blade of grass in sight. What will you do when you get outside--stomp footprints all over the yard, find your flying saucer, start a snow fort? It's magical, it's fantastic, it's snow.

This book celebrates snow: from the formation of a snowflake to the snow adaptations of a caribou; from the danger of an avalanche to the thrill of a toboggan ride. Underneath the celebration is a healthy dose of respect. This book asks you to think about snow and how remarkable, valuable, and amazing snow really is!

Jane Drake and Ann Love, sisters and prolific authors of many exceptional nature books for young people, have teamed up again to explore the amazing world of snow.

     Snow Amazing is both informative and comprehensive. The authors have included many fascinating bits of information that mature readers will enjoy. For instance, in 1922, at age fifteen, Canadian Armand Bombardier built his first snowmobile from a Model T and a sleigh. Readers will also love bold statements such as "Sasquatches are everywhere and nowhere."

     There is a candidness throughout that kids will appreciate. A good example is in the section dealing with avalanches: "...every winter there are snow adventurers, travelers, and workers who are caught and die in avalanches. Their lungs fill with snow powder, their chests are crushed by the weight of the snow, or they run out of oxygen. And these people themselves often trigger the avalanches that kill them."

     As well as plenty of good information, Snow Amazing offers a winter story, legend or folktale in each of its five sections. This provides a nice balance of fact and fiction. Not to be forgotten are the helpful Glossary, Index and Table of Contents as well as the attractive, snowflake-covered end pages. The beautiful cover--a gorgeous photograph of a Snowy Owl on sparkling, white snow--is certain to encourage readers of all ages to pick up this book.

     Almost every page contains either an excellent photograph from the authors' private collections, or art by Mark Thurman who has worked on more than 30 books. His water color and colored pencil illustrations are vibrant and playful, which adds a further dimension to the snow facts and stories.

     Unfortunately, there are several glitches in this book. Clunky pieces of writing are found occasionally in the otherwise flawless text. Also, the first unit, "Think Snow," might confuse some young readers. It refers to a midwinter morning where there is still no snow, and where there are fallen leaves, brown grass, and gray puddles. By mid-winter, many areas in Canada (probably most of the country) have been buried under snow for months, and puddles have long been frozen over. Perhaps a general introduction regarding snow in this vast country would have been more appropriate. Finally, some may be disappointed that the hands-on activities which are so prevalent in many of the authors' other books aren't included here. After all, kids of all ages learn best by "doing."

     Snow Amazing is a wonderful book for the mature readers in elementary and middle school/ junior high, a book that would be great for birthday gifts, school or public libraries, or even placed under the Christmas tree. It delivers what it promises: cool facts and warm tales.

Recommended.

Cheryl Archer, the author of Snow Watch and a lover of snow, was a park naturalist and deliverer of winter school programs in Manitoba for 10 years. She currently enjoys skiing in the snowy Rockies.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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