Ten Ways To Hear Snow

Penguin/Kokila. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399186332.
K-Gr 3–Perhaps only someone who has lived in a snowy place and loved it would find 10 ways to hear snow. This poetic undertaking is as simple as a walk to a grandparent’s home and, ultimately, just as heartwarming. Lina hears a muffled sound, first in the morning when no one is moving after a blizzard the day before, a thwomp when the snow falls off a branch that sways under the weight, and the scrape of shovels as sidewalks are cleared. She wonders if Sitti, her grandmother, will know that it has snowed, and goes to tell her, and to make stuffed grape leaves, a Lebanese favorite. But the 10th way to hear snow is its quiet, and Sitti, who cannot see well, is well aware of the blizzard’s aftermath. Camper’s straightforward telling is imbued with lyrical moments: “Outside, the late blue afternoon was completely still” perfectly describes the color and cast of the day’s blanketed scenery. Lina’s skin is light brown, and her hair is black; her parents, too, have similar coloring, he with a moustache and calling her the Arabic endearment “habibti.” The inclusion of that and a few other Arabic words is seamless. In muted pastel colors, with foamlike blocks of snow lining branches, roofs, and hedges, Pak re-creates the sculptured effect of snow—that it covers the landscape, and in doing so, highlights it: eyebrows of white over windows, bumps where there had been bushes, drifts scattershot up the trunks of trees.
VERDICT Not since Ezra Jack Keats in Snowy Day and Karen Gundersheimer in Happy Winter has snow been so lovingly depicted, in a counting game for children in all seasons.
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