Lois Ehlert's Snowballs
Book review by Sarah Denslow
Get outside! Make a snowman!
If you’re familiar with Lois Ehlert’s work, you probably already have some idea what her book Snowballs consists of, and, if you like Ehlert’s other books, you’ll definitely like this one.
In typical Ehlert fashion, Snowballs consists of simple text accompanied by beautiful, detailed collage illustrations. The topic is not snowballs themselves, but things you can make out of them, namely snowmen.
The narrator explains that now that there’s been a really good snow, the family can make snowmen and decorate them with all the household items they’ve been saving especially for that purpose. Each two-page spread consists of a (vertical) picture of a snowman (or woman or child or pet) complete with colorful decorations.
Ehlert’s signature collages are particularly effective in Snowballs, because the items (seeds, bottle caps, buttons, etc.) she uses to decorate the pictures of snowmen can be used to decorate actual snowmen. Some items are specifically listed at the end of the book and should give children some great ideas to start their own snowmen. (And isn’t inspiring kids to get out outside what we all want at this time of year?)
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and before the book ends, the sun comes out. As the narrator says, you can guess what happens then: the snow family starts to melt. It’s okay though: the snow family can be remade when it snows again.
Scientific information about snow can be found at the end of the book. I skip this part when reading Snowballs to toddlers (it’s a bit too technical to hold their interest), but slightly older readers should enjoy learning a bit about the books subject (that is if they’re not too busy looking for snowman decorations).
Its simple prose makes Snowballs a great read for children as young as two, but its fascinating illustrations make it a perennial favorite for older children as well.
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