Twelve Kinds of Ice

Ellen Obed, Author, Erik Blegvad, Illustrator, Barbara McClintock, Illustrator
Ellen Bryan Obed, illus. by Barbara McClintock. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-618-89129-0
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Ebook - 64 pages - 978-0-547-52932-5
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Like a souvenir from a bygone era, this homage to rural winter celebrates the gradual freezing of barn buckets and fields, the happy heights of ice-skating season, and the inevitable spring thaw. Obed (Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?) crafts an autobiographical first-person narrative of a farm family and lists her dozen crystalline varieties in ascending order. “First Ice” glazes “the sheep pails in the barn”; a second heftier ice lifts “like panes of glass.... in our mittened hands”; another ice, thicker still, heralds after-school skating. Short-lived pleasures, like sinister see-through “black ice” on Maine’s Great Pond, give way to homespun fun on a DIY rink built on the vegetable patch. McClintock (A Child’s Garden of Verses) sets cozy mid–20th century scenes with her crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations; children, bundled in woolly layers, imagine themselves Olympic figure skaters and twirl to the sound of “John Philip Sousa marches, Strauss waltzes, Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.” This quaint volume could have been written 60 years ago, alongside One Morning in Maine and The Little Island. Today’s readers will marvel at the old-fashioned amusements, chronicled with folksy charm. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)
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