Winter can pack a wallop where I live in Canada. Because it can be so severe, stories are often about survival. The people who immigrate here learn to adjust to winter in often unique ways that contain traces of their origins and yet orient them to this climate. In Thor, by W.D. Valgardson (illus. Ange Zhang,) we see an Icelandic Canadian boy go out with his grandfather who is a fisherman on Lake Winnipeg, to fetch fish from his nets. It is the dead of winter. “The snow was at the top of the fences, as high as the windows. The snow was so cold it crunched under their feet like dried bread under Grandmother’s rolling pin. Their breath made white clouds.” Thor must wear two sets of clothing and a bushy, fur-lined hat with earflaps before they set out in his grandfather’s Bombardier. While outside, Thor and his grandfather notice some snowmobilers driving recklessly over thin ice. One of them falls in. It is up to Thor to to rescue him. Will he be able to do it?
In The Big Storm by Rhea Tregebov (illus. Maryann Kovalski,) we meet a Jewish girl named Jeanette and her cat, Kitty Doyle. It is winter in north end Winnipeg. On the day of a snow storm, Jeanette forgets about Kitty Doyle who comes to pick her up from school every day. After school, Jeanette plays in the snow and goes over to her friend Polly’s for latkes. At Polly’s, she suddenly remembers that Kitty has been waiting for her all this time. She hurries out only to find Kitty huddled under the snow in an alleyway. Is Jeanette too late? Will Kitty Doyle survive?
Thor and The Big Storm are stories about winter where I live. What about where you live? What is winter like for you and your children?