SNOWFLAKES FALL, by Patricia MacLachlan, Illus. by Steven Kellogg
Published October 2013
"In tribute to the lives lost in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, acclaimed author and artist MacLachlan and Kellogg collaborate on a book that celebrates “the laughter, the playful high spirits, and the uniqueness of the children of Sandy Hook and of children everywhere,” as Kellogg explains in his dedication. The text unfolds as a continuous verse, emphasizing renewal while drawing a comparison between the singularity of a snowflake and that of a child: “After the flowers are gone/ Snowflakes fall./ Flake/ After flake/ After flake/ Each one a pattern/ All its own—/ No two the same—/ All beautiful.” Rosy-cheeked children and rowdy pet dogs cavort through the snowy wonderland of Kellogg’s paintings, which give way to rainy spring scenes “Where soon/ Flowers will grow/ Again.” The most direct allusion to the tragedy comes in two scenes picturing “fields of snow angels,” a somber metaphor for the children killed. It’s a potent reminder of the ephemeral nature of childhood and of the joys contained within those fleeting years. Ages 3–7."
"Falling snowflakes highlight the beauties and joys of winter in this celebration of the uniqueness of not only every snowflake, but every child.
MacLachlan’s lyrical free verse is set on the pages, sometimes drifting like the flakes in a storm, sometimes stacked up like so much snow on the ground. Her language is the same, at times gently flowing, at others, a staccato list, always matching the emotion: “Snowflakes / Fall / Drift / And swirl together / Like the voices of children.” Boot prints and sled tracks are not the only evidence of children in these pages, which are filled with the wonders and delights of childhood, wonderfully captured in Kellogg’s detailed and perfectly colored illustrations. They wake up to new snow, find animal tracks, catch snow on their tongues, snuggle in a cozy bed, revel in the companionship of pets, and make snowmen and snow forts and snow angels. Snowy wind at night can be scary, but in the morning, the world is new again. MacLachlan ends with a simple version of the water cycle, the snow melting and filling “the chattering streams” then “[s]ending drops of water up / To fall as rain.” And where there once was snow, there will be flowers, reminiscent of the snowflakes. No direct mention of the Sandy Hook shootings is made in this book dedicated to its victims; the emphasis is on life, not death.
MacLachlan and Kellogg celebrate the small things, but the small things turn out to be the big things after all: the children, “No two the same— / All beautiful."