Snow reminds most of us of cleanness, pureness, being fragile, beauty, etc. Most children love snow. Snow is a symbol of winter, and the best thing about winter is probably snow. There have been a lot of books on snow. Among them, two books on snow are introduced herein. They are The Snowy Day and Brave Irene. Both books are selected as the 100 best children’s books of All Time by Time magazine.
The first book, The Snowy Day, is a story of a young boy in his typical daily life. In this book, snow is described as being gentle and fragile. In the second book, Brave Irene, snow is described as more of a hazard along with the wind, although the main character loves snow.
Interestingly, the authors of both books have Jewish origins. Both books are lovely stories which make us smile or relieved. I hope that children who read these books become happy and/or learn lessons from it.
The Snowy Day
(Author and Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats, Age range: 2~5 years)
The story is about the typical daily life of a young boy named Peter. On a winter day, he wakes up in the morning and finds out that there is a lot of snow outside. He is excited and runs outside. Then, he walks on a road while playing with his foot-prints on snow. He does several activities such as a snow fight with bigger boys, making a snowman and an angel. Before coming back to his warm home, he puts a snowball in his picket. Later he finds out that the snowball was gone and feels sad. The next morning, it is snowing again, and he happily goes outside again to play with one of his friends.
The book was published in 1962. Ezra Jack Keats (1916~1983), the author and illustrator of this book, was born from a poor Polish-Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. He showed his talent in art since his childhood. In most books by him, the main characters were black American children. He tried to introduce multiculturalism to the children’s literature in the U.S.A. Please note that Peter, the main character of this book, is also a black boy.
The book shows the behavior of an innocent child. The part where he puts a snowball in his pocket before entering home and expecting it remains there makes us smile. The illustration of Peter in an orange coat is adorable.
(Author and Illustrator: William Steig, Age range: 4~8 years)
It is a story of a little girl named Irene, whose mother was a dress-maker. The mother made a beautiful ball-gown which was supposed to be delivered to a duchess for that night’s ball in a palace, but she was sick. Then, Irene suggested that she would deliver it to the duchess saying that she loved snow. While going to the palace, she faces a lot of difficulties which are beyond her capability.
The big-box containing the ball-gown was too big for her, and there were heavy snow and strong wind. Due to the strong wind, she even lost the ball-gown. She kept going to the palace to explain all the details while worrying about what can be their reaction. While she was walking, the night came, and she was almost buried in a pile of deep snow. She managed to arrive at the palace and luckily found the ball gown hanging on a tree branch near the palace. People in the palace were astonished by her bravery and safely brought her to her home the next morning.
It is a great adventure story. The little girl who loves snow dares to go out on a snowy day for a dangerous trip to the palace over the mountain. The scene of the conversation with the strong wind is awe-inspiring. When she is almost buried in deep snow, she is so lonely, and no one can help her. But, she still faces all the challenges and survives the danger. A child who reads this story will be impressed by her bravery. Her mom’s decision to send Irene to the palace in heavy snow is not convincing to me, but the main theme of this story will be the braveness and independence of a young girl.
The book was written and illustrated by William Steig (1907~2003), who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in a Polish-Jewish immigrant family. He was a cartoonist and sculptor at the beginning. In his later life, he also worked on children’s books as a writer and an illustrator. Note that he was a creator of the picture book, Shrek, which became the basis of the international blockbuster films, Shrek series, by DreamWorks Animation.