Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review of Snow by Uri Shulevitz

Snow by Uri Shulevitz
Square Fish

1999 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

Snow is a wonderful story of how a village is transformed from gray to white. Paralleling the village’s transformation is a transformation of people from curt and pessimistic to happy and cheerful. 

The illustrations follow this conversion using changing colors and facial expressions. The hero of the story is a little boy who is optimistic about the snow from the first flake. If there is a message here it is to not pay too much attention to the nay-sayers. Believe in what you believe, and hope for a change from gray yuck to white smiles.

In addition to being a Charlotte Zolotow Award winner, Show also has these honors: American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Booklist Editors' Choice, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Award, Caldecott Honor Book,), Golden Kite Award Winner, New York Times Outstanding Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year. It captures a child’s indomitable optimism from the start, even when others try to cut him off.  The illustrations convey the mood as it changes from plain and nothing into wonder and happy.

I like this book because the child does not give up in the face of pessimism.  He never gives up his hope. Something good is about to happen, he hopes, he knows, he expects. And he is rewarded as the snowflakes begin to multiply. Of course all of our wishes don’t come true,  but the book somehow makes it clear that there are people who can’t or won’t believe something good is about to happen, while the child retains his expectation. It is a story that, I think, helps us see the “glass half full” rather than the “glass half empty.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uri Shulevitz was born in Warsaw in 1935. His family fled from Poland during World War II and settled in Paris in 1947. He moved to New York in 1959. Uri began drawing at the age of three and combined it with storytelling by drawing comic books as a child. He studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and soon started illustrating books. His first book was The Moon in My Room in 1963.  His 1969 book The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship won a Caldecott Medal. He has since written or illustrated (or both) over 40 books. They include three Caldecott Honor Books (The Treasure, Snow, and How I Learned Geography.)

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