Last week I was feeling the spring fever and starting to believe that Punxsutawney Phil just might have been right about an early spring this year. And then this morning we awoke to several inches of snow and it is still falling. A bit of a surprise for early March in the South. I will not complain however, but instead will curl up with some hot cocoa and a few good snowy books. This one made it to the top of the pile this morning and seems incredibly appropriate. Here is Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, 2012.
Right off the bat, this book is a charmer with a textured and glittery cover. This is not the overdone, annoyingly spreadable, glitter that many books boast nowadays and I personally refuse to even breathe near. No, this is a nice, understated glitter that gives a shimmer and does not stray over its unintended parts or onto perusing fingers. It is a nice touch, figuratively and literally, and the bold title pops off the cover because of it.
Once inside the pages, the wintery breeze blows through the pages. The story is about a small town called Toby Mills that is experiencing a particularly frosty turn of the temperatures. The first pages immediately introduce you to a few characters such as Millie Moffat and her little brother Chip, Stix Hartman, and most notably — the statue of the town’s founder, General Toby — whose nose and an unfortunate icicle will play an important part in marking time during the snap.
In the beginning, the townspeople enjoy all sorts of snowy activity, especially the children; but as the days progress, the temperature creeps lower, and the aforementioned icicle grows longer — everyone is ready for some warmth.
But the week grows colder still, and by Friday the town has been nicknamed “the new North Pole.” The distraught townspeople despair in their attempts to find clever ways to stay warm and the mayor decides something must be done. Thankfully his wife has a delightful idea, and although the citizens of Toby Mills believe they will all be Popsicles soon, everyone decides to join in. I dare not give away the marvelous surprise, but know that it is lovely and warm and just right to not only give the town the cozy break they all need, but also to bring them all together in old-fashioned joy as a community should.
This new book is as seasonally appropriate and delightful as it could be. While the weather is the continual protagonist of sorts, author Eileen Spinelli does a fine job of sharing the charming citizens and giving peeks into their particular personalities in the ways they each cope with the cold. It is a marvel how with the few details given, you still find yourself caring for the wet and shivering kids who played in the snow a bit too long. And for the Sullivan sisters who knit as quickly as they can. The pastor who ties hot water bottles to his feet for a nap and the schoolteacher who tries to create a summer feel for her students with a plastic seagull and a beach chair. It is a town that boasts of all sorts of characters and although you are a happy reader who is not involved in the frigidity; by the end you kind of wish you were just so you could join in the splendid warmth of a small town celebration.
My favorite part of this book is, of course, the illustrations. Ever more so though, the color palette. If you are familiar at all with Marjorie Priceman, it won’t surprise you one bit and it won’t delight you any less than her work ever does. When most winter and snow books are dreary or predominately white, Ms. Priceman packs a wallop with bold, deep colors. The dark blue is immensely beautiful in contrast with the ever-growing ice and snow. There is just something about dark blue that speaks even more clearly of the depths of winter. Ms. Priceman’s characters have just the right amount of style, movement, and detail to not hold your attention in one spot for too long; but give you a complete experience with every page.
I sincerely hope this story is the only cold snap we have to endure this week, especially as no real cold snap would look quite so lovely, be so deeply charming, or even warm my spirit as much as the townspeople of Toby Mills. Oh! And be sure to check this one out while you have snow on the ground as part of the special surprise includes a recipe that your crew will certainly want to try. Hope you have a cozy Wednesday!