“The Blizzard” by Betty Ren Wright, illustrated by Ronald Himler
Holiday House, New York, 2003, 32 pages, Grades 2-3.
Blizzards can be frightening storms. The sky begins to darken and heavy clouds begin dropping large amounts of snow. If people are inside and safe, blizzards can be interesting and exciting. But if people must travel through the snowstorm then the conditions can become treacherous and deadly.
Betty Wright has captured both sets of feelings in this inviting picture book. It is set in a one-room schoolhouse about 75 years ago. The author shows both the dangers of the blizzard and the generous and brave responses people make. The name of this fine book is “The Blizzard.”
Fifteen children walk through the winter cold to their country schoolhouse. They range in age from kindergarten through upper elementary. Before the day begins, the teacher, Miss Bailey, has the largest boy shovel coal into the stove. Then the children sit down and begin their work.
Billy is angry because it is his birthday and the snow will stop his cousins from attending his birthday party that evening. That just doesn’t seem fair. To make matters worse, the geography class is about Africa. Billy thinks that nobody ever missed a birthday party in Africa because of snow.
Glumly, he goes about his schoolwork. His talkative sister Mae doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything. Of course, why would she? Her birthday is in July. Soon it is time for lunch. When Billy opens his lunch box, he discovers his mother’s special gift, a large chocolate cookie. Feeling somewhat better, the boy shares it with his friend.
Then all the students go outside as the snow is falling. They build a snowman and have snowball fights. Soon Miss Bailey calls them into the classroom for the afternoon studies. Billy looks out of the window and can barely see the snowman they built. Suddenly, the door opens and a snow-encrusted man, Mr. Carter, walks in. He tells Miss Bailey that the outside road is closed because of snow drifts. Acting quickly, Miss Bailey has all the children get dressed and asks Mr. Carter to lead them to Billy’s house. The school house does not have any food for an overnight stay.
Into the blizzard the children follow Mr. Carter. Suddenly, they reach Billy and Mae’s house and their mother opens the door and sees the line of snow-covered children. Mr. Carter waves goodbye to the class and trudges on to his nearby house. Billy’s mother quickly ushers the children in and prepares hot chocolate and cookies. As the cold and snow worsens, the warmth and kindness of a house full of children increases. How does all this come about?
How do Billy’s parents welcome the children? How could such a possibly dangerous day turn into one of joy and blessings? How does all the delicious food prepared by Billy and Mae’s mother help with this? How do the adults in the story show such genuine care and responsibility? Does Billy finally have a birthday party? To find out, go to the library and check out this fine picture book, “The Blizzard” by Betty Wright.
This is a warm and comforting story of a group of schoolchildren being protected and loved by responsible parents. The pictures in the story are intriguing. We see the snow falling throughout the book. While it could have been crippling, the actions of all the characters ensure that nothing bad happens. This is a delightful read. I hope you get a chance to read this book with the younger members of your family during the next snowstorm. Just make sure you have some hot cocoa and cookies. Enjoy!