Prather’s Pick: Surviving a blizzard |

Prather’s Pick: Surviving a blizzard

Diane Prather
Diane Prather

This week’s book is timely, indeed, considering all of the media coverage about the recent blizzards in the eastern part of our country. “Blizzard” is a beautifully-illustrated (Caldecott Honor) book, written by John Rocco. The story is based on his own experience with a blizzard when he was 10 years old.

As the story begins, the clouds are rolling in over John’s neighborhood. It doesn’t look like winter. The ground is bare, even greenish in places. It’s Monday, and the kids are in school when the first snowflake falls. It isn’t long before there are lots of snowflakes, and the little bushes outside the classroom window have snow across their tops. The wind comes up, and snow is let out early. By the time John and his sister reach home, the snow is over their boots.

That night John watches the snowfall from his bedroom window. A stop sign on the street is nearly covered. The next morning the family is literally drifted in. They can’t get through the front door so they crawl out of a window instead. The kids are looking forward to playing in the snow, but all they do is sink in it. They can’t even sled without falling through the snow.

So the family, including a big fluffy dog, retreat to the warmth of the house. They warm their feet in front of a woodstove and enjoy hot cocoa made with milk. John passes the time by reading a book on arctic survival.

Before long it’s Wednesday. (The author helps the reader keep track of the days of the week by including the names in the illustrations. “Monday” was written on the chalkboard, “Tuesday” in squirrel tracks made in the snow on the roof, “Wednesday” in the snow on the branches of a tree, and so forth.) So far there have been no snowplows so Dad shovels out the driveway. There’s a wall of snow on each side. The kids and dog make tunnels under the snow.

By day four, the family is a little grumpy. The food is running out so that they have to make cocoa out of water. They need to go to the store but the streets still aren’t plowed out, and nobody can walk in the snow. That’s when John relies on his arctic survival book. He makes a list, finds two tennis rackets that he uses as snowshoes, and polishes up the runners on his sled. On Saturday he’s off for the store.

Fold-out pages in the book allow the reader to follow John’s path as he stops to check in with neighbors about their grocery needs and for other things along the way — like checking out an igloo and joining a snowball fight. Finally John makes it to Bill’s Market. It’s 4 p.m. already so will he make it back home before dark?

According to a note from the author, this story was inspired by an actual blizzard on Feb. 6, 1978 that blanketed parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut with 40 inches of snow. The 50-mile-an-hour winds left drifts 15 feet high. John went to the store, a mile away.

This is a great book to enjoy with your children as you cuddle up on a cold night or perhaps to use with a weather unit at school. The illustrations are superb! The book is received a Caldecott Honor award, a prestigious award presented to the illustrator of a picture book.

“Blizzard” is published by Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group (2014). The hardcover book is $17.99. The book can also be found at the Moffat County Library.

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