Review: Blizzard by John Rocco

blizzard

Blizzard by John Rocco

Rocco tells a story from his childhood of the blizzard of 1978 that dumped 53 inches of snow on his Rhode Island town.  The story begins with just a few flakes in the air and by the time school closes and the children make their way home, the snow is getting deeper and deeper.  The next morning, the drifts were so high that they had to leave the house through the window rather than the door.  The snowplows stopped running because the snow was too deep.  They were isolated and at first it was great fun with days of playing in the snow and drinking mugs of hot cocoa with milk.  Then after a few days, food got scarcer and the cocoa was being made with water.  It was up to a ten-year-old John to make his way to the grocery store pulling his sled with tennis rackets strapped to his feet. 

Rocco embraces the wonder of a huge snowfall in this picture book.  The delight of a landscape and world changed into something foreign and incredible.  The changes to routine, the cancelation of school, families stuck inside together, the futility of trying to dig out paths.  He celebrates it all on the page and then moves the story to an arctic exploration of one boy against the elements, complete with a map of his route to the store.  There is a rich humor throughout the narrative that reassures children that the family is not going to starve but also offers real reason to travel to the store, watery cocoa!

Rocco’s art cleverly incorporates the days of the week in the art, from snow on branches spelling out the word to a squirrels trail on the roof.  The cool white and blues of the outdoors are contrasted fully with the yellows of the indoor world of the family.  The disjointed attempts at clearing the snow are cleverly done, speaking to the power of intent but also the depth of the snow and the effort required to clear it. 

Perfect for folks in Buffalo, but also a great story to read when any snowstorm is drifting your way, preferably with mugs of milk hot cocoa.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.