The Blizzard

By Betty Ren Wright


This historical fiction picture book is the perfect read aloud for a snowing day.  The setting is the day of the one-room school house when life was simpler yet more complicated.  And, we learn just how complicated life could be when a blizzard hits. 


The story begins one morning in the home of the main characters.  But, it is not just any morning.  It is Billy's birthday.  Mom is receiving a phone call from relatives that they will not be able to come this year to celebrate because of the prediction for lots of snow coming their way.  With grumbling of disappointment, Billy and his sister, Mae, are off to school. 


As the day progresses, we get a peek into the school day … the long walk to school, the teacher getting each grade level started within the one room,  the stove that requires coal to be shoveled into it by students and then unevenly heats the room ( "He had one warming up side and one mostly cold side."), lunch recess outside despite all the snow on the ground and the snow falling, and the outhouse trips  Shortly after lunch, word arrives that the road is snowed in and everyone must spend the night at school.  But, without food or blankets, the teacher quickly refuses that option.  Instead, she asks Billy if they can all spend the night at his farm as it is the closest to school. 


This is when the adventure begins.  The illustrator has done a beautiful job of showing the blizzard conditions in which children cannot even see where they are going so they hold hands as the adult leads the way down the road that is now gone.  The day progresses as the children arrive at Billy's farmhouse.  They snack, play in the snow, have dinner, entertain themselves with a sing along, celebrate Billy's birthday and bed down for the night. 


The story begins with Billy grumbling that  his cousins will not be able to make his birthday.  "Mae's the lucky one," Pa siad,  "Born in July.  No snowstorms in July.  December babies have to take their chances."  The story ends with Pa asking Billy, "Wishing you were a July birthday, I suppose."  Billy replies with a grin, "December's okay with me."


Don't miss this delightful snow day adventure from another time period and help your students find the similarities and differences with their own snow day adventures.  There are plenty of places for inferences as well as the readers make meaning of the words and experiences from a time period long before they were born.

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