November 17, 2016

So Much Snow!

by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scholastic Canada
978-1-4431-4617-3
32 pp.
Ages 3-8
August 2016

The collaborative team that brought us Canadian classics The Paper Bag Princess (Annick , 1980) and Thomas’ Snowsuit (Annick, 1985) and so, so many more, have returned to celebrate the onset of the winter season with their newest release, So Much Snow!

From So Much Snow! 
by Robert Munsch, 
illus. by Michael Martchenko

Regardless of her mother’s concern of a coming blizzard, little Jasmine is determined to go to school.  After all, it’s Pizza Day and no one wants to miss Pizza Day.  So bundled up in her multi-hued coat and brightly-coloured hat, scarf, mitts, and boots, Jasmine sets out with enthusiasm amidst the early flurries, singing


“Neat! Neat! Snowy feet!
Snowy feet can’t be beat.
Neat! Neat! Snowy feet!
Snowy feet can’t be beat. 
Wintertime is fun!” (pg. 4)

Even when the snow starts accumulating, up to her knees and then up to her bum, she’s still singing a version of her “Wintertime is fun” song, though perhaps with a little less enthusiasm.  By the time she is in sight of the school, that final line of her song has become a question. And, when it is only the top of her hat that peeks out from the drifts of snow, Jasmine has revised that line to “Wintertime is no fun.” (pg. 13)

A frozen Jasmine is rescued by the snowshoed custodian and his St. Bernard, only to become the focus of the school staff’s efforts to defrost her.  The reader will soon realize that Pizza Day has become a snow day and the school is attended by a skeleton staff.  Still Jasmine came for Pizza Day and pizza is what she will have, though not as she expected.
From So Much Snow! 
by Robert Munsch, 
illus. by Michael Martchenko
In So Much Snow!, Robert Munsch brings his characteristic absurdity to a typical situation, bundling up his story of a child’s earnestness with a sing-song refrain that reveals much.  Playing on a child’s desperation to go to school for an anticipated treat, regardless of the weather, Robert Munsch makes what could have been a dangerous situation into one of silliness, even developing Jasmine into a character who begins to recognize the nonsense of her situation.  But it’s Michael Marchenko, whose artwork children always associate with Robert Munsch, who brings that folly to life, with his bold colours and textured details of clothing, blankets, and interior and exterior features. (Check out the principal’s checkered pants, the school nurse's flowered boots and the lost mitten pinned to the bulletin board.) Michael Martchenko, who has illustrated many children’s books beyond those of Robert Munsch (one of my favourites for teaching is Enough by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000), will always be seen as the visionary behind Robert Munsch’s words; without his artwork, So Much Snow! would just be a cute story.  Together, though, Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko have created a snow day story to amuse children and gratify their teachers and parents who will understand completely the mind of a child determined not to missed out on something grand, regardless of a few metres of snow.
From So Much Snow! 
by Robert Munsch, 
illus. by Michael Martchenko

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