The Big Snow by Berta & Elmer Hader

The Big Snow (1948)
Written and Illustrated by Berta & Elmer Hader

The Big Snow is a lovely story about how many of the forest animals prepare to survive the long winter months. The geese fly south to escape the cold winter months, while the chipmunk stores food, and the ground hog prepares to sleep until spring. Many common, and some not as common, North American forest animals are shown preparing for winter in their own special way. Then one night there is a very big snow storm. Many of the animals are then struggling to find their food after the big snow. That is when the animals notice that a kind man and woman have started putting out seeds, nuts, and corn. The animals rejoice and happily eat the food that has been so generously left out for them by the kind people and they live through the winter thanks to the kindness of the man and woman.

This story is a little wordy for some small children, but beginner aged children are more than able to sit through this book and still enjoy it. One thing that I really liked was that none of the animals were anthropomorphized in this story, but you still felt connected to them as you read it. There was also some good use of new vocabulary such as the words ebbed and retired. The book didn’t talk down to children by using only simple language, but also didn’t incorporate so many new and different words that a child would become lost. When I read this story to my five year old she never asked about the new words, and only a few times did i quickly explain them to help her understanding. Most of the words were placed so well that context clues made them easy to figure out for any beginner reader.

The illustrations in The Big Snow vary between detailed black and white drawings to realistic watercolor illustrations. The illustrations are very nice, in fact they earned this book the Caldecott Medal. I enjoyed the variance between the black and white and color throughout the book and also liked that since the animals were portrayed through the story realistically they were also drawn realistically.

This is a wonderful book to read to children in winter time. It is also a great introduction or supplement to a unit on how animals survive the harsh winter months. Though the book may be more challenging for younger readers to read on their own, it makes for a worthy challenge or a great winter time book to read aloud to children. Young animal lovers will enjoy both the story, the kindness found within the pages, and the lovely illustrations of forest wildlife that The Big Snow has to offer.

Content- A
Illustrations- A
Readability- B

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