Written by Alvin Tresselt, Illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Lothrop, Lee and Shephard Books, 1947
Awards: Caldecott Medal (1948)
Softly, gently in the secret night
Down from the North came the quiet white.
The plot in a nutshell: A small town enjoys snow and winter
The citizens of this small town predict snow in different ways and the children are very excited when the snow falls. The adults prepare for the impact that the snow will have on them, the rabbits hide underground and the children come out to play. The storm covers the town in snow. The postman, policeman and farmer all deal with the way the snow affects their daily activities and the children make snow forts and have snowball fights. Then the sun comes out and melts the snow and everyone prepares for spring.
There is a simplicity to this book that makes it very nostalgic and likeable. Author Alvin Tresselt explains, in a note at the end of the book, that the story got its start as he walked down a snowy street in New York City and composed the poem that opens the book. It’s only three rhyming verses at the beginning of the book and the rest is in prose, adding in bits and pieces from Mr. Tresselt’s memories of snow from his childhood, including the way his mother said her big toe would hurt when it was about to snow. He examines the different ways that adults and children are affected by snow and that’s really all the book has in the way of plot. But it’s hard to read it without thinking of fond memories of snow days from your own youth.
The illustrations use a palette of grey, red, yellow and green, which all stand out in sharp contrast to the white of the snow. Artist Roger Duvoisin’s artwork was based on his love of the small town life he lived in New Jersey after becoming an American citizen. It’s true that the book shows its age a little bit in a few different ways, but overall I feel like it’s a nice slice-of-life representation of a bygone age.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that winter is a different experience for everyone and no matter how harsh winter may get, it is always followed by spring.