Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Snowflake Sisters

A Reader's Guide by Claudia Hairston
Lewis, J. Patrick, and Lisa Desimini. 2003. The snowflake sisters. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-689-85029-8
Recommended Age Levels 5-8
Summary of the book
Take a journey with snowflake sisters, Ivory and Crystal as they twirl down and sweep up through the winter season. It is the first snowfall of the year and the sisters begin their adventure gently floating down from a cloud above. They meet children at play, hear the jingling of reindeer bells, take a ride on Santa’s sleigh and even visit New York Times Square. The snowflake sisters end their journey as they come to rest on the shoulder of a snowman in Central Park. With the ending of the season and the melting of the snow, they become concerned however; they are quickly reminded by winter that they will be back again next year.
Review Excerpts
Kindergarten-Grade 2-Although the Snowflake Sisters hitch a ride on Santa's sleigh early in their journey and observe him delivering presents, this story is more about the cycle of snow and winter than Christmas per se. The setting is New York City, captured through witty collage illustrations that make use of such materials as rice paper, maps, newsprint, and Scrabble letters. Lewis's elegant and fluid rhymed text offers surprises on every page, and the inevitable ending-brought about by "the splendor-ender, Spring"-gives promise of rebirth and renewal. A prime read-aloud choice for storytimes or one-on-one sharing. --School of Library Journal
PreS-Gr. 2. Lewis' clever poetic text about two snowflake sisters, one wearing fleece, one in lace, could have gone several different ways, depending on the artwork. Happily, it's hard to imagine anything more engaging than Desimini's collage art, which delightfully catches the wordplay. Crystal and Ivory, nonidentical twins, sweep down from a gossamer cloud and tag along on Santa's sleigh, eventually finding themselves in Manhattan, where they celebrate New Year's. But Midtown is a good place to get squished if you're a snowflake, so the sisters ride the wind to Central Park, where they land on a snowman, remaining until the inevitable springtime melt. There are so many terrific artistic touches here, including the Empire State Building created from a transit map, and the sisters themselves, so tiny in some spreads, they will be an entertaining challenge to find. Another delightful pairing of Lewis and Desimini's considerable talents. --Booklist
Following their Doodle Dandies and Good Mousekeeping, J. Patrick Lewis and Lisa Desimini present The Snowflake Sisters, a story in verse about two snowflakes who tag along on Santa's sleigh, manage a trip to Times Square in time to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve and wind up in Central Park, affixed to a snowman's shoulder, until spring brings a thaw. Lewis has his way with T.S. Eliot ("Let us snow then, you and I," says one snowflake sister to another), and throws in some other jokes. Desimini's collages include such dazzlers as a Times Square scene made of cut-up advertisements, intricate snowflakes constructed from New York City bus and subway maps and more. -- Publishers Weekly
Ivory and Crystal, the snowflake twins, have an adventurous life. The first snowfall finds them falling from a cloud to a group of children playing in the snow, but they soon move on to ride along on Santa's sleigh and twirl over people standing in Time's Square on New Year's Eve. They finally come to rest in Central Park on the shoulder of a snowman. They spend the winter there and worry as they begin to melt when spring comes, but are reassured by the departing winter that they will be back next year. The color illustrations appear to be constructed from fabric scraps and colored paper, which create an interesting effect that is very appealing. The illustrations of New York City neighborhoods are constructed of maps of the city as well as magazines and newspapers from New York. The rhyming story and the repetitive words will appeal to early readers, and also make this book an excellent story-time and bedtime story book. --Children's Literature Review
Questions to Ask Before Reading
v  When you hear the word, “snow”, what do you think of?
v  Discuss snowflakes; their patterns. Do they all look alike?
v  Discuss poetry and rhymes.
v  Discuss the art style: collage.
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
v  Read the poem aloud, having the children repeat the rhyming words only.
v  Divide the children into two groups, having each group alternate reading each sentence. For instance, the first group will read the first sentence; followed by the second group reading the second sentence and then back to the first group and so forth.
v  Adult read aloud; have an adult read the poem aloud to the children.
Follow Up Activities
§  Have children write about their adventures in the snow; if they have never experienced snow, they can write about their favorite winter activities. For example; drinking hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows, making smores, how the cold wind feels against their cheeks, etc.  
§  Have children write about their most favorite road trip. It can simply be a trip from their home to the grocery store. They can describe all that they saw; buildings, lights, other cars, people walking, dogs, etc.  
§  Allow children to practice recognizing action and descriptive words. For example, spinning, whoosh, snow hurried down, swooshed, arc on up, jingling, full speed ahead, swirling snow, switched off, turned on, etc.
§  Help children create a snow globe, using a small baby food jar or small juice bottle. Remove the labels from the jar/bottle. Let it dry. Have children bring in a small plastic trinket. Using the play dough, attached the trinket to the inside of the lid. Let it dry. Pour a tsp of iridescent confetti flakes into the jar/bottle. Slowly pour water into the jar/bottle. Screw the lid on tightly and turn over the jar. Watch the sparkling glitter rain down! 
§  Have children create a snowstorm art by instructing them to draw a winter scene on black construction paper. They can color their winter scene. Next spray or brush glue all over the picture. Sprinkle iridescent confetti flakes all over the picture. Shake off the excess flakes. Enjoy the snow blizzard!  
§   Children can make a collage placemat by creating a scene made of scraps of newspaper, magazine, pieces of material, etc. glued onto a sheet of construction paper. Once the completed, laminate the entire sheet; leaving approximately a fourth inch of a plastic border around the placemat.
§  Discuss with children why snowflakes look the way they do. You can discuss the various shapes and patterns of snowflakes. The following website; provides information all about snow crystals and snowflakes; what they are, where they come from, and how they are created. The site provides remarkable detailed photos of various types of snowflakes and crystals.  
§  Review the NASAelip; Our World: Snowflakes
§  Help children make frost with an empty can, crushed ice, and salt. First, fill an empty can (soup can, coffee can, etc) 2/3 full with the crushed ice. Spread about a teaspoon full of water on a piece of paper. Place underneath the can. Next, fill the remainder of the can with salt and mix with the ice. Keep mixing for a few minutes or until well mixed. Frost will start to appear on the outside of the can.
Related Web Sites/Blogs
v  Chicken Spaghetti: Books for Children and the rest of us, too – Blog
o    Poetry Friday: The Snowflake Sisters
v  J. Patrick Lewis: Children’s Poet & Author - Website
v  Family Education
o    Learning About Snow
v  Poem Hunter
o    Poems About Snow
Related Books
v  Buehner, Caralyn, and Mark Buehner. 2002. Snowmen at night. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books.
Fiction Children’s Literature
v  Beck, Ian. 2002. Teddy's snowy day. New York: Scholastic Press.
Biography Children’s Literature
v  Martin, Jacqueline Briggs, and Mary Azarian. 1998. Snowflake Bentley. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Nonfiction Children’s Literature
                    v  Nelson, Robin. 2002. A snowy day. Minneapolis: Lerner
                           Publications Co.

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