Thursday, March 3, 2011

Snow Day by Pamela Greenhalgh Hamilton

I want to begin by stating two things: I love children's books (I was an Elementary Education major in college and a school teacher for a few years) and I love snow days. So, Snow Day, by Hamilton should be a pleaser, right?

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I hate being disappointed with a book because I very much want to like and enjoy every book I read. Not all books are created equally, therefore critical reviews exist. (I just wish they didn't have to exist on my blog.)

Snow Day is Hamilton's first picture book and I say, "Congratulations!" She has more courage than I by making her dream a reality. I applaud the hard work and perseverance she needed to publish her first book.

The story tells of the activities three kids engage in with their grandparents on a snow day. A perfect day is created, complete with snow angels, sledding, hot cocoa and cookies. All the events that make a dream snow day are included in the book. This makes the story easy to relate to but lacks pizazz. Every child has experienced a day similar to the one depicted. The plot lacks uniqueness. As I read about sledding and building a snowman, I guessed the story would end with hot cocoa and cookies. I was hoping for something different to prove me wrong but, kids and grandparents snuggling on the couch with a plate of cookies nearby concludes the book.

In literature for children the words and illustrations go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. Words enhance the pictures, the pictures enhance the words. The greatest words can be diminished by poor illustrations and vice versa. In Snow Day, on two occasions the illustrations do not match the text. This is a huge blunder! I fault the illustrator for this, although, these mistakes should not have slipped past the author, or the publisher, for that matter. The first error, the text describes a "bright red scoop" while the picture shows a yellow scoop. Secondly, the text states "sugar cookies" twice while the picture shows, what are clearly, chocolate chip cookies. Children's literature cannot send mixed messages like this.

For a first picture book, Snow Day is not a book to be ashamed of. Even though it isn't on my top 10 favorite children's book list Snow Day is not a waste of time either. Kids love snow and a book about snow is sure to please young ones. I am looking forward to reading Hamilton's next picture book to see how she has grown as an author.

I received a complimentary copy of Snow Day in exchange for a review.