Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Snow Day

I’ve been reading a lot of snow/winter books recently. I can only assume it comes with the season. As the leaves change and the temperatures fall, my thoughts turn to winter. Plus there are just so many beautiful books about winter. Komako Sakai’s The Snow Day is no different. This simple quiet book is more about mood than story. But the mood that it sets is just too perfect.

The story follows a little rabbit who wakes up to find out that snow has been falling all night and she doesn’t have to go to school. She wants to go out to play but her mother tells her to wait until the snow stops. Her father, who has been traveling, is stranded and they are not sure if he will come home that day. The little rabbit sneaks out onto the deck of the family’s apartment to make snow dumplings while her mother does dishes. They play cards together and do indoor activities. They stand out on the balcony and listen to the silence of the snow. Finally, that evening, the storm stops. Even though it is close to bedtime, they go out to play in the snow until it is time to go to sleep. Tomorrow, she remarks, Daddy will be home. Because the snow stopped.

As I mentioned before this book is more about mood than it is about plot. The story is simple with very little happening. Instead we get to feel the impatient waiting of a child who wants to go outside. We get to hear the silence that comes with a heavy snow when no one is outside. I loved the moment where the little rabbit sneaks out to the balcony to make a snow dumpling. We see the apartment building shrouded in white with the little rabbit on the balcony. We feel the silence and the cold and the magic of the moment. When she is finally allowed to go out and play, we feel that excitement as she rushes out into the field. There is a sense of freedom.

Sakai’s illustrations are muted and beautiful. She appears to mix paint and crayon to create these part sophisticated, part childlike images although there is no mention of the medium in the title page. The palette is very muted with a focus on whites, grays, and browns. The rabbit is cute and I was very taken with the clothes she wears (which is surprising because I don’t normally notice things like that). Each page is a silent little tribute to the frustration and beauty of a snow day. A quiet book but one packed with emotion and feeling. And a little bit of magic.

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