All those songs about white Christmases and sleigh rides have worked a number on our boy. He's convinced that it isn't really a proper Christmas if there isn't snow on the ground. And because we live in the Pacific Northwest, snow isn't a guarantee at Christmas (or even at all during the season.) Though we did have one day where the snow hit about 3 inches deep, it wasn't the magical-snowman-come-to-life event of Sprout's dreams. Poor kiddo.
In Big Snow, our hero David is eagerly anticipating a heavy snowfall. Clearly he's heard the weather forecast, because all the while that he's helping his mother get the house ready for guests, David's keeping a watchful eye outside. The flour he spills while making cookies reminds him to take a peek out the door, as do the suds from the bathroom cleaners and the white sheets from the beds. Each time he looks, David sees a progression, from sparse flakes to big fluffy ones, to drifts of snow covering the entire world. David dreams that the house is taken over by a big snow. When he awakes, Dad is home early, and the family ventures outside to explore the familiar neighborhood, made somehow strange by its blanket of white.
I've heard a few comparisons between Big Snow and The Snowy Day, and I have to say that this is not a farfetched notion. Both David and Peter share a sense of wonder at the snow, at the world around them that is transformed by this wintry event. There's a dash of humor in each book, and an appreciation for the thrill that "big snow" brings. One thing I find most appealing about both titles is the fact that the diversity in them doesn't drive the story - you could easily replace David in Big Snow with an Asian or Native American or white character and there would be no difference to the narrative. Truth be told, I didn't even notice the main character's ethnicity (multiracial, perhaps?) until Sprout pointed out that "David's skin is brown like mine!" That's a nice touch, in my opinion, and something we need much more of.
Big Snow is a terrific candidate for a winter-themed storytime (though there's a Christmas tree in the house, the plot isn't holiday-centric) or a cozy bedtime read. This is the kind of story that kids ask for again and again - not because it's splashy or gimmicky, but just because it's comforting, familiar, and classic.
Big Snow by Jonathan Bean, published by Farrar Straus Giroux
Sample: "But then the flour, white and fine, made David think of snow. / So he decided to check the weather. / Small flakes fell softly, white and fine."