Monday, November 26, 2018

Snow Day Wish

It’s beginning to snow again here in Calgary and it was the perfect time to pick up Before Morning by Joyce Sidman this morning.  Who doesn’t love a snow day?

Besides being a story written as an invocation, it is a story that reminds us of the beauty of a gentle snowfall.  It’s all too easy to grouse about the shoveling, driving conditions and overall inconveniences that snow can bring. And if it’s a snow day and you have kids you likely have additional issues that come with school closures.

The illustrations tell the story of a family with a mother who needs to go to work. She’s a pilot and after making her way to the airport, the snow prevents her flight from taking off. The snow could also prevent her from returning home to her daughter and husband but she hitches a ride on a snow plow and makes her way through the city. Her unplanned day off allows for the family to spend it together, enjoying the snow, tobogganing.

The illustrator, Beth Krommes, conveys a cozy, warm feeling of a family tucked up in their home as beautiful, crystalline flakes gently drift down.  The illustrations of the home are filled with details about living with winter like bulky masses of outdoor clothes, skates, skis, toboggan and lots and lots of mitts. The muted colour palette captures the subdued light, the cloud-blanketed sky and pillowy snowbanks covering the streets. I can’t say enough about how well the illustrator has captured the outside light. This is winter as I know it. You will too, if you live in a place where it snows.  

The text is the invocation that I mentioned earlier. Though not told in a child’s voice, it is the little girl’s wishes for her mother to stay home that is hoped for.  Here are some of her wishes:

Let the air turn to feathers, the earth turn to sugar, and all that is heavy turn light. Let quick things be swaddled, let urgent plans founder, let pathways be hidden from sight. Please –just this once- change the world before morning: make it slow and delightful…and white.”

This book is simple and beautiful.

I highly recommend this for the primary grades for a read aloud and higher grades for poetry units.


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