It came with a fury; the wind howling after a brief respite from the breezy day. In the flashes of lightning leaves flew past my windows. Thunder rumbled. Rain pounded the outside of the house. Temperatures dropped fourteen degrees in minutes with twenty more to fall in the night. It's coming. Winter.
Will it begin to softly fall while our world sleeps? Will the ground be covered in the morning? Will the air be sharp and chilly? Best in Snow (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon& Schuster Children's Publishing Division, October 11, 2016) written and illustrated with photographs by April Pulley Sayre is a sensory sensation of the season's shift and the precipitation transformation.
Flakes fall and cover the fur of waiting squirrels. Birds' feathers billow in the wind as snow swirls around them. Leaves gracing the ground get a new coat.
If enough snow falls it disguises familiar forms creating new figures. It goes where the wind wills it. Heavy and wet, dry and fluffy it's an artist.
Bend close and see the magic it paints in tiny icy creations. When the air warms it becomes something new. This is only for mere moments in the scope of the season. Soon the cycle begins anew.
With a writer's eye and ear for cadence April Pulley Sayre fashions a poetic presence for snow. Twice six words are used; carefully placed between a series of two or four word phrases. Only once do three words signify a particular pause in the pacing.
With her observations and word choices Sayre draws our attention to snowing and snow. She points out the conditions for flake formation, how it looks when and where it lands and what happens based upon humidity and temperature. Here is another passage.
as ice creeps.
The opened dust jacket is a beautiful sight for our eyes as April Pulley Sayre freezes in a frame splashes of color in a snowy landscape. Her choice of perception asks us to be constant in looking at the world in which we live. On the left, the back, is a more panoramic woodland view with a tiny bit of red in an otherwise brown and very white landscape. A cardinal sits, still as a statue, on a branch. When you run your hands over both the left and right sides all the snow is slightly rough to the touch. The title text is raised. The book case matches the jacket less the textures. The opening and closing endpapers are blue-jay blue.
The squirrel, a part of the opening and rhyming closing, is seen on the front jacket flap. A heron stands poised on a snowy water's edge on the title page. Each illustration, some spanning two pages, others partial pages or extending across the gutter, is a gorgeous glimpse of the beauty Mother Nature graciously bestows on us. For some of the text Sayre groups pictures together in a trio separated by thin white lines. Sayre brings us in close to see frosty delicate patterns and the tiny flakes on oak leaves and a duck's feathers. She stands beneath a tree lightly coated in snow shooting upward toward a brilliant blue sky. The hours spent waiting and watching to bring us these images must have been many.
One of my favorite photographs of several is a close-up of evergreen branches coated in snow. The sun has warmed them so icicles have formed on the ends drops dripping. I'll bet if you listen closely you can hear them fall.
Best in Snow is a stunning presentation of the types of snow as it moves through various phases. The images strikingly enhance the spare but sensory text. This book is an essential purchase for your professional and personal bookshelves. At the close of the book two pages are dedicated to Secrets of Snow along with recommended books for reading. Be sure to read the companion title Raindrops Roll.
To discover more about April Pulley Sayre and her other works, please take a few minutes to visit her website by following the link attached to her name. At the publisher's website you can view eight interior illustrations.