Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson

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Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A little girl from the city discovers a nice life in the country and realises it's ok to be different. A story that's sweet at heart, but has a few too many unexplained bits for more precocious readers.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 32 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1407135038

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Mia is a little girl from the city who moves to the village of Silver Vale to live with her Grandmother in the forest. The first question you might encounter from curious readers is why this happens. And where her mummy and daddy are. What’s happened to them? Was it something bad? Did they just leave Mia behind one day, go to work and not return? It’s not too clear and the opening picture which shows a little girl, all alone, looking out of the window to the city below, is rather sad.

The next question might be why a brown skinned girl has a white skinned grandmother. We’re clearly supposed to notice race in this book rather than overlook it, because later on Mia tells us that the village children are as pale as snow, so different from the children in the city. Again, it’s unclear why this has been done as it really doesn’t matter or even add much to the story because it’s about being a new girl in town, rather than a new skin colour in town. There’s no reason Mia shouldn’t be Asian or Indian or black, but the village children could be too, or the school could at least boast a little more diversity than a token kid in glasses.

So those are my first two observations in a book that leaves, in my mind, a lot of questions unanswered. As for the rest of the story, we have Mia who is having all sorts of new experiences. She’s never seen a forest before, never had a coat before (um, why? Again, it hints at neglect because even city children wear jackets, surely), never fed a hen or seen snow. It’s a whole new scary world for this little girl, and probably made all the more scary for whatever reason it was that brought her to the forest, if only we knew. In trying to find some link before her new life and old, Mia remembers the moon. It’s the same moon she’s used to, and that makes her so happy she jumps out of bed in the middle of the night to run outside and see it. Outside it’s snowing. Oh, it’s so magical. And as she listens, the wind whispers to her

Every snowflake is different, every snowflake is perfect

Even though we’re not quite sure why Mia feels different, we understand what this message means to her, how it translates into how she feels about herself. And of course it will translate to those enjoying this book as well. They too can be different and perfect, and it can all be ok. We don’t all have to be the same.

I really wanted to like this book but it seems a bit too worthy for me, a bit too clichéd. I think the lack of backstory added to this, because I didn’t really feel like I understood Mia’s situation, so I didn’t warm to her. It seems a bit hurried in places. Mia won’t play with the other children but then she gets the different/perfect quote stuck in her head and suddenly she will. Nothing has changed apart from the way she sees herself but I’m coming back to that point again: why is Mia so convinced she is different? And how can we celebrate and embrace differences if they aren’t brought to our attention?

I think if you’re picking up this book to read aloud, you need to be prepared to answer the questions that will arise. If you’re creative you can add all sorts to the story to make it all make sense, in whatever way you like, but if you just want a simple bedtime story that calms them down and sends them off to sleep, this might not be the best because the uncertainty is unsettling, and a bit too stimulating.

Presentation-wise, this is a magical book. The cover has silver sparkle details that shimmer gloriously, and a lot of care and attention has gone in to the page illustrations inside, from the bunting and Germanic hanging heart decorations in Mia’s room to the magical chocolate-box village centre. It’s a place you’d want to live, even if you were used to big city lights. It’s not a scary forest full of dark places and nasty shadows and glowing eyes, which seems to be Mia’s fear.

I found this book odd because while the idea is good, the story doesn't always make sense, and I think this is something even young readers would pick up on and question.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending us a copy to review.

If you want to pass on the message that it's ok to be different, Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson and The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water by Gemma Merino both fit the bill.

Buy Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Snowflakes by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson at Amazon.com.


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