Books that Inspire a Little Snow Adventure
Ever since we got back from Whistler Dek has been obsessed with snow. He keeps asking where the mountain is, what happened to his snowman and why can’t we go ice skating every day? I needed to find something to tide him over until his next glimpse of snow. I turned to our local library.
I walked in with the MacMillan winter catalog and a list of books to check out. A few titles looked promising. Two ended up doing the trick.
Both books came with a copy of the book and a CD. As many of you already know, Dek is not the best car kid. He does OK on his own for a while but always needs a movie by the end of a long trip. I decided he was old enough to start listening to some audio books. We started out small.
Snow by Uri Shulevitz (Ages 3-7. October 2004. ISBN# 9780374468620)
This 1999 Caldecott Honor Book was just up Dek’s alley. Like all Caldecott winners, the illustrations were the highlight. The text was simple and only enhanced the story of a boy who was convinced it was going to snow. When everyone else said it wouldn’t happen, he believed that one snowflake would turn into two and then three and then cover the European town he lived in. It just goes to show we should always listen to those younger than us. They have faith that something will happen and don’t lose sight of the excitement a little snow (or even a lot) can bring into our lives.
The lush illustrations could have held up in a frame on a wall. I was delighted to see the images progress from a grey, drab city into a winter wonderland with Mother Goose characters hopping off a storefront sign to join in the boy’s excitement. You knew his imagination was going wild with joy. The printed book was a success, now it was time to try out the audio version.
I popped in the CD, handed Dek the book to flip through and we headed out on a 20 minute drive to swim class. It didn’t take long for the CD to finish, but it kept Dek quiet the entire time. The narrator, George Guidall, spoke in a heavy Eastern European accent, bringing a sense of mystery and wonder into the story. Nothing was more captivating. Even I found myself listening along. This already beautiful story come to life in a whole new way that I could never replicate. We were transported to Eastern Europe. We were with that little boy frolicking in the snow.
It really helped that Dek and I had already read through the book together the night before. He was familiar with the story and could flip through the book looking at the illustrations. He did not keep up as the audio progressed, but he got to stare at images of snow till his heart’s content. Peace and quiet was accomplished. It was time to try a slightly longer book.
The story of Irene is almost that of a fairy tale. A brave little girl tries to help her sick mother by delivering a dress to the duchess on the other side of the mountain. Irene isn’t afraid of a little snow. She loves the snow. Old man winter tries to get the best of her though. He and his buddy the wind blow her this way and that, snatching at the box holding the precious dress. She is mocked and scorned by the snow she loves and yet she carries on. She has a job to do and must not disappoint.
This tale tackles courage and perseverance in an easy to understand way. Dek loved the almost comic strip style of the drawings and giggled with glee as the snow whipped around our heroine Irene. He could not have been more thrilled when she took a ride on the dress box. I knew he enjoyed the print version, but could he last through the audio book in the car?
Once again I popped the disc into the CD player on our way to swim class. I handed Dek the book and we took off. The audio version of Brave Irene was much more involved than Snow had been. While Snow was a simple, yet dramatic reading of a children’s book, Brave Irene, narrated by Lindsay Crouse, had music weaving in and out of the telling. A flute highlighted the wind whipping around Irene trying to snatch her box away, while other musical instruments added to the suspense of her long journey. Dek was enthralled. He didn’t flip through the book as much this time. He just enjoyed staring at the cover image with the snow on it. But he stayed quiet and calm in the car. We had another winner. We are now on the hunt for more books to take for a test drive.
Note: My opinions are my own. Although MacMillan Audio sent me a list of books in their catalog and are hosting this giveaway I am under no obligation to give a favorable review of any of their books. Books are in my blood and we genuinely enjoyed these two books we read and borrowed from the library.