Great Illustrated Books

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder

By Mark Cassino, with Jon Nelson; Illustrated by Nora Aoyagi, Photographs by Mark Cassino

Chronicle Books, 2009
Pages : 36
Suggested Ages: 5-10
ISBN: 0811868664

You thought you knew all about snowflakes because you read the Caldecott winning picture book biography Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian? Think again. Here's a striking nonfiction picture book that fills in a lot more of the details with a dual text format that makes it usable for a wide age range. "Snow begins with a speck," is the lead sentence, in larger black letters, on the second page. If you're sharing the book with preschoolers, those topic sentences on each page might be all you need to read. For older kids, there's additional easy-to-absorb information about those specks, including the fact that a snow crystal needs one of those "specks" of dirt, ash, salt, or bacteria to start growing. The accompanying gray and lavender-toned watercolor and ink illustrations show, step by step, how water vapor sticks to the speck and grows into a hexagon-shaped ice crystal with six branches or arms. Accompanying the text are large, ethereal color photographs of snow crystals, collected during different snowfalls by the author/photographer. Did you know six-sided snow crystals can be shaped like stars, plates, or columns? No, neither did I. Did you know they're rarely perfect? Or that a snowflake is actually made up of many different snow crystals? This extraordinarily attractive package imparts a surprising amount of knowledge.

At the back are instructions on how to catch and observe your own snow crystals. If you're in a snowy place, your children will adore this activity. If not, share snow stories while your listeners hold little plastic Ziploc bags with one ice cube in each, so they can feel the cold. Walter Wick's experiment-filled A Drop of Water will be a natural companion.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Branley, Franklyn M. Snow Is Falling. HarperCollins, 2000.

Johnson, David A. Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Story. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day. Viking, 1962.

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley. Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Meschenmoser, Sebastian. Waiting For Winter. Kane Miller, 2009.

O'Malley, Kevin. Straight to the Pole. Walker, 2003.

Sakai, Komako. The Snow Day. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2009.

Simmons, Jane. Little Fern's First Winter. Little, Brown, 2001.

Stojic, Manya. Snow. Knopf, 2002.

Wick, Walter. A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder. Scholastic, 1997.

Wright, Betty Ren. The Blizzard. Holiday House, 2003.

Critics have said

Sure to get young scientists outside in the cold, particularly as it helpfully includes crystal-catching instructions.
Libraries in areas where snow falls will definitely want to add this title to their collections, but it would enhance lessons on weather anywhere.
School Library Journal