We had a surprise visit of snow hit us yesterday and while it wreaked havoc on many places in the southern U.S., we were fortunate to be safe at home and watch it fall in the largest amount we’ve received here. While getting cozy near the fire, this book came to mind. My enjoyment for non-fiction books continues to grow and I now have a serious soft-spot for this vintage series of science books called Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out. A local used bookstore occasionally has them on the shelf and I just cannot help but continue accumulating them as they cross my path. A lot of the authors are the same, including Franklyn M. Branley who wrote this one, but the illustrators vary and many are incredibly well-known and accomplished with their own publications. Seeing their illustrations for this series is so much fun! I assume the science is perhaps a bit outdated here and there, but overall each book has general information on its subject and opens the door to questions and curiosity about the world around. Take a peek at this 1963 sweet edition all about this white winter weather, Snow Is Falling by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by Helen Stone.
One of my favorite details of this book is of course hidden underneath the dust jacket. A beautiful, intricate debossed illustration of a snowflake graces a bright red cover. The inside of the book alternates black and white illustrations with color, but even the color keeps to a fairly limited and slightly muted palette of tints of red, green and black. It is a very soft effect, kind of like the hazy look falling snow gives.
Although it is written to give scientific information and wonder, Branley has composed the text with an almost poetic feel.
“Everything is covered.
Everything is quiet.
Everything is white.
Everything is cold.”
There are gentle suggestions like examining snowflakes on your mitten and under a magnifying glass. And there are questions about what the snow does for nature. “Snow can be fun, but what good is snow?… Let’s find out!” I love that even as an adult, I learn things from picture books. Perhaps I learned them when I was a child and I simply forgot, or I may be encountering a question that I never even thought to consider. I never underestimate the power of a picture book to present information in an interesting and intriguing manner. Thankfully, these stray from feeling too “teachy” and ask a lot of questions with suggestions for viewing the answer in your own small experiments.
I don’t know how helpful these books are in teaching anymore, but I’m thankful for them to help me ponder the beauty and simplicity of the world around me in a simple and questioning manner.
I hope you are keeping warm wherever you may be. I’m going to sit here and continue to watch the snow fall, or melt more likely, and think about what all that snow is doing to our grass and flowers and trees!