Friday, September 13, 2013

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed

Life with ice. Black ice can mean doing a 360 with the car at a stop sign screaming with your daughter as it becomes a whirly-bird. Regular ice can mean your feet being swept out from underneath you levitating your body so that it is parallel to the ground before squashing you like a bug on the cold, hard asphalt. January ice can mean tossing a bucket of water in the air and watching it freeze before it hits the ground. That was in 1996 when temperatures were almost -60 degrees fahrenheit. February ice can mean stepping outside with damp hair that turns into icicle wind chimes. I felt like the ice goddess on those days. Medusa had snakes. I had ice shards. I'd show up at school and show off the latest Minnesota hair fashion. Ice can mean creating a toboggan run that goes down your backyard hill at speeds that frosts your breath onto your skin in a ghostly face mask. Ice is fun. Ice is hazardous. Ice is mysterious. Ellen Bryan Obed captures this magic in her 61 page book that focuses on the transformation of ice in the surrounding landscape. The nostalgia and beauty of Obed's writing makes for a beautiful piece that can be used in "writer's workshop" to teach small moments; a nice read aloud to show atmosphere, setting, and sensory details; or a warm snuggle with a magical book.

When fall comes the ice slowly transforms from a thin sheet on the top of an ice pail to a solid block freezing streams and lakes. When the narrator describes the transformation of the ice rink in the back yard I was transported to the past of skating in my purple parka with my 4 siblings. We didn't have shows like the author describes or pump music outside over a loudspeaker but they did do that at some of the city parks. We would break off icicles and lick them like ice pops. Of course we didn't think about what we were licking as we broke off the beautiful shapes that formed from condensation dripping down sun-warmed, slanty roofs. Yum - bug and tar flavored ice pops. Obed describes twelve stages of ice and ends with dream ice. This ending captures the magic of ice and the possibilities. As you can see I haven't talked much about the book because my own memories keep cropping into the sentences sidetracking me.

I have noticed when I write book reviews I give 5 stars much more easily with fantasy than realistic books. I think the unbelievable factor makes me more forgiving of elements that aren't realistic in fantasy; whereas, I'm more critical if a book is "real." I also like fantasy as a genre most and must have an unconscious bias towards it. Guess I'm writing this because this could be a five star. I just thought there was a lull in some spots, but I'm such a jet pants I also like lots of action. This book requires more patience. That's my disclaimer anyway. I did enjoy the nostalgia of ice in this book and delicious writing. I confess as an adult I think now of how uncomfortable ice skates are, how many times I've frostbit my toes, and how hard it is shoveling mountains of wet snow. This is a good reminder of the joys of winter as a child. The magic of the ice rink, playing hockey with my brothers, pretending with my daughter we were Olympic ice figure skaters, racing across the ice and sliding on our seats, flipping into snowbanks going full speed, playing broom ball, and more. I need to keep that child alive inside me, and this book certainly does that well.

Reading Level: 4.6
4 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment