Feb 15, 2012

White Snow Bright Snow

White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Published by HarperCollins
Caldecott Medal 1948

     I know it's been a unseasonably warm winter here in the US, and I would normally not complain. In fact, for someone who grew up by the Caribbean Ocean, a warm winter is a great winter.  But then you read White Snow Bright Snow, and the gorgeous text by Tresselt makes you wish you could look out your window and see the world covered in a snow blanket.
Softly, gently in the secret night,
Down from the North came the quiet white.
Drifting, sifting, silent flight,
Softly, gently, in the secret night.
     The postman, the farmer, and the policeman felt the snow approaching and each prepared for it accordingly.  The postman put on his rubbers, the farmer grabbed his snow shovel and the policeman buttoned up his coat. Suddenly "the air was filled with soft powdery snowflakes, whispering quietly as they sifted down." The children tried to catch the snowflakes on their tongues. That night, "silently, the frost made pictures of ice ferns on the window panes."
     Tresselt's beautiful descriptions of the snowy day continue:
[In the morning]
Automobiles looked like big fat raisins buried in snowdrifts.
Houses crouched together, their windows peeking out from under great white eyebrows.
      As the days start getting warmer, and spring starts making his way, "fence post lost their dunce caps, the snowman's arms dropped off, and running water gurgled in gutters and rain pipes." "And the children watched for the first robin to tell them Spring had really come."
      White Snow Bright Snow is a book to savor one line at time.  Unfortunately, for me, the illustrations don't capture the beauty of the text.  In fact, in the printing I read, there were instances where the grays of the background made it difficult to read the text.  But take may word for it, there is enough beauty in Tresselt's words to transport you to a winter wonderland. Just beautiful!

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