Last night we decorated the Christmas tree and witnessed a true holiday miracle. The hubz and I were able to sit and enjoy each other’s company alone because both of the children were asleep. Wonders never cease.
As we were winding down the evening, I finished reading “Twelve Kinds of Ice” by Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. And because it’s so accessible at 61 pages, I read it again immediately. This book is gorgeous. Oh, my soul, do I love it!
It’s a first-person recollection of a family’s winter traditions all centered around ice and the different forms it takes in their lives. There’s the first ice that forms on buckets and can be easily broken, but as the ice gets thicker and comes in different ways, anticipation builds as the narrator looks forward to skating on streams and ponds, and finally on the family ice rink in the garden. Get thee to the library and read it asap. Here’s why!
1.) This book is superbly written. It begs to be read aloud, preferably by firelight with hot cocoa in hand. Here’s an excerpt of one of my favorite parts, in which the children skate on the large pond near their home,
“We sped to silver speeds at which lungs and legs, clouds and sun, wind and cold, raced together. Our blades spit out silver. Our lungs breathed out silver. Our minds burst with silver while the winter sun danced silver down our bending backs.”
2.) I think this story is just magical because it captures the emotions that I truly associate with childhood: anticipation, joy, and longing. The manner in which the book is written, so simply yet with such detail, really conveys the feeling of being a child waiting and waiting and waiting for a much-loved event and the magnitude of enjoyment that comes from finally getting to experience it. Oh, and the dreaming, the pretending, the planning… of Rink Rules and ice shows and future Olympics. That’s what childhood is all about, in some form or another.
3.) The family in this book absolutely adores one another. Obed depicts parents who are deeply involved in their children’s lives, who teach and challenge, and yet allow freedom to explore. I especially love that there’s a devoted and involved father in this book. He leads the family on adventures, shows them how to maintain their rink, and puts on comical skating shows for everyone to watch from the bedroom window at night. Precious and perfect.
4.) Barbara McClintock’s illustrations are really, really great. They strike the right balance between realism and fancy. They’re simple, lovely drawings that add to the story without stealing the show and yet there’s an incredible attention to detail that I really appreciated upon closer inspection.
5.) Winter is magical. Ice is magical. Ice skating, though I’ve only gone once and practically killed myself trying, is magical. “Twelve Kinds of Ice” is magical. I really think it’s the perfect book to read with a buddy, a school-aged kid, a sweetheart, a sister. It’s quick and short, but so, so joyful and sweet. It truly reminded me of how a child observes the mystery of winter and, for a stressed out adult, that’s pretty magical in and of itself!
*Nobody involved in the writing, illustrating, or publishing of this book knows who the heck I am. I just love sharing good books with good people…Enjoy!