About the Holiday
There may be no hot drink that dispels the frostiness of winter like hot cocoa. Whether you make it from cocoa powder or from a pack, add extra flavors like peppermint or cinnamon or enjoy it straight, top it with whipped cream or marshmallows, hot chocolate is a favorite for cozy snuggling. And if you think that hot cocoa is too indulgent, you’ll be happy to know that it actually has health benefits. Used medicinally up until the 19th century, this warm drink contains antioxidants that protect against cancer, flavonoids that help with arterial health, and elements that aid in digestion. So sit down with a good book and enjoy a cup – or two!
When the Snow Falls
Written by Linda Booth Sweeney | Illustrated by Jana Christy
A little curly-haired girl and her younger brother wake up from a sleepover with Grandma to a magical sight. As they gaze out the big picture window in the little girl’s room, they’re dazzled to see “When the snow falls…Frost paints. / Skies gray. / Windows sparkle/ Snow? Yay!” There’s no school today, so Mommy and Daddy and Grandma bundle up and get the kids ready to head outdoors to take care of the farm animals.
Soft flakes flutter down, piling into deep drifts and providing a little extra after-breakfast treat as “Boot sink. / Lashes flick. / Tongues tickle. / We lick.” In the barn the horses, puppies, and chickens are just as excited about the snowy day. Riding an old chair sled, Grandma and her grandchildren glide down the hill, following tracks left by lively rabbits and now-dozing foxes.
Deep in the forest the three take in the beauty: “Woods hush. / Fields glisten. / Wren sings. / We listen.” On the other side of the woods, people continue their daily routine but at a slower pace as “plows push” and “mountains grow.” Grandma and the kids slide into town, where people are hard at work keeping up with the storm: “Wheels crunch. / Shovels scoop. / Ice cracks! / Awnings droop.”
The trio has reached Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They all grab shovels and help clear the walk. Now it’s Grandpa’s turn to have some fun. He takes his granddaughter by the hand, seats her little brother on a sled, and walk to the park. There, kids are making snowmen, building snow forts, and zipping down hills on their snow saucers. At the bottom of the hill everyone plops into the fluff and make snow angels.
It’s been an exhilarating, adventurous day, but twilight is on the horizon and now “toes tingle. / Lips quiver. / Cheeks glow. / We shiver.” As grandma calls from her front porch, the little girl and Grandpa, carrying his grandson, race toward home amid the swirling snowflakes. Inside, the light, warmth, and cozy comforts of warm soup, popcorn, and a crackling fire await. Later, the two kids enjoy quiet time with Grandma and Grandpa when “Cocoa warms. / Mittens puddle. / Day dawdles. / We cuddle.”
With her brilliantly expressive staccato sentences—each only two words long—Linda Booth Sweeney evokes the sights, sounds, and joy of a care-free, snowy day. Each four-line, rhyming verse abounds with melodic verbs that spark readers’ imaginations and concrete nouns that in many places form delightful alliterative pairs that softly trip off the tongue. Readers will love the story line that takes them from a rustic farmhouse to Grandma and Grandpa’s cozy home through woods, over hills, past the highway, and into downtown all with the help of an old-style sled. Several verses full of snow day fun play out like a long afternoon spent with friends, leading naturally into the slower pace and loving comfort of the night spent with Grandma and Grandpa.
In glorious two-page spreads, the wind-swept snow swirls, spatters, and blankets the world in downy white fluff. Jana Christy takes children into the family’s large farmhouse kitchen where a blackboard announces Grandma’s Sunday sleepover as well as Monday’s snow day in place of the crossed-out piano lesson. The family steps out into the sparkling countryside where purple mountains form a backdrop for the barn and sheep pen. As Grandma and the kids start their journey, the forest, a quiet enclave of teal and greens, welcomes them. By the time they reach town, cars are stuck in snowdrifts, snow shovels scrape against the sidewalk, and kids are heading to the park.
The thrill of playing in the snow is palpable as saucers zoom down hills, hats fly off, and hair blows in the wind. The final spreads of Grandma and Grandpa’s tidy home glow with love and laughter as the kids pull off their snow gear, their dog shakes off the snow, and they settle on the couch for cocoa and cuddles. The busy townspeople, happy playmates, and close-knit mixed-race family make When the Snow Falls a cheerful celebration of diversity.
When the Snow Falls is a joyous book to add to winter collections and would be often asked for during home, classroom, and library story times.
Ages 3 – 7
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0399547201
Discover more about Linda Booth Sweeney, her books and her systems work, visit her website.
To learn more about Jana Christy, her art, and her books, visit her website.
Hot Cocoa Day Activity
Friendship Hot Chocolate Jar
There’s nothing better than sipping hot chocolate with a friend or family member during the cold months ahead! Here’s an easy way to make a special gift for someone you love!
- Mason jar, canning jar, or any recycled jar from home
- Canister of your favorite hot chocolate mix
- Bag of mini marshmallows
- Bag of chocolate chips
- Measuring cup
- Piece of cloth
- Shoelace, string, elastic, or ribbon
- Paper or card stock to make a Friendship Tag
- Hole punch
Directions for Filling the Jar
- Wash and completely dry the jar
- Drop a handful of mini marshmallows into the bottom of the jar. With the spoon push some of the marshmallows tight against the glass so they will show up when you add the hot chocolate mix.
- Measure 1/3 cup of hot chocolate mix and sprinkle it on top of the marshmallows. With the spoon gently spread the mix over the marshmallows.
- If you wish, add a layer of chocolate chips.
- Continue layering marshmallows and hot chocolate mix until you get to the top of the jar.
- At the top add another layer of chocolate chips and marshmallows.
- Put the lid on the jar and secure it tightly.
Directions for Decorating the Lid and Adding the Tag
- Cut a 6-inch circle from the cloth. To make the edges decorative, use a pinking sheers or other specialty scissor.
- Cover the lid of the jar with the cloth and secure with an elastic or rubber band.
- Tie the string, shoelace, or other tie around the rim of the lid.
- If using a Mason jar, place the cloth between the disk and the screw top
- Create a Friendship Tag and add your name and the name of your friend.
- Use a hole punch to make a hole in the Friendship Tag, slide it onto the tie, and knot it.
Directions for Making the Hot Chocolate
- With a spoon measure 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate, marshmallow, chocolate chip mix into a mug
- Fill the mug with boiling water, hot milk, or a combination of both
You can find When the Snow Falls with these booksellers:
Picture Book Review
Picture Book Review