Twelve Kinds Of Ice

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrations by Barbara McClintock

Published: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (November 6, 2012)

Recommended age: 6 & up

In a nutshell: For a novel about ice, I found Twelve Kinds of Ice to be one of the most heart-warming tales I’ve ever read. Author Ellen Bryan Obed begins introducing the reader to the various stages of ice in her autobiographical account of her childhood in chapter one, “The First Ice” :

“The first ice came on the sheep pails in the barn—a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it.”

And we continue with “The Second Ice”:

“The second ice was thicker. We would pick it out of the pails like panes of glass. We would hold it up in our mittened hands and look through it. Then we would drop it on the hard ground and watch it splinter into a hundred pieces.”

As the cold finds it’s way into winter,  the narrator tells the story of a family’s winter tradition of building an ice rank over their garden. The anticipation grows as the ice grows thicker and more sturdy in time. Once the weather is right for skating ice, the preparation, care, and activities on the homemade rink ensue. Dad floods the ring. Mom is the rink manager. After school, the boys play hockey and the girls practice their figure skating. As the winter progresses so does this story of the ice; it’s temperament, it’s recreation, and it’s strength in memory and meaning to one family.

As I read Obed’s lovely prose paired with Barbra McClintock’s retro black and white ink illustrations, I felt frozen in my own time from not so long ago. Please do yourself the pleasure of reading this book (at 64 pages it won’t take long), preferably with a cup of tea or hot cocoa on a cold afternoon. Share it with your family, your friends, and read it aloud to your children. The comfort of a good… no… a great book.

Perfect for: All-ages. Especially as a read-aloud to your family or classroom right before or during the winter months.

Don’t take my word for it: NY Times, 100 Scope Notes


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