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Twelve Kinds of Ice

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“This is a joyful, spirited gem of a book, as bracing and glorious as a perfect stretch of ice.” –Newbery Honor author Joyce Sidman

With the first ice—a skim on a sheep pail so thin it breaks when touched—one family’s winter begins in earnest. Next comes ice like panes of glass. And eventually, skating ice! Take a literary skate over field ice and streambed, through sleeping orchards and beyond. The first ice, the second ice, the third ice . . . perfect ice . . . the last ice . . . Twelve kinds of ice are carved ...

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“This is a joyful, spirited gem of a book, as bracing and glorious as a perfect stretch of ice.” –Newbery Honor author Joyce Sidman

With the first ice—a skim on a sheep pail so thin it breaks when touched—one family’s winter begins in earnest. Next comes ice like panes of glass. And eventually, skating ice! Take a literary skate over field ice and streambed, through sleeping orchards and beyond. The first ice, the second ice, the third ice . . . perfect ice . . . the last ice . . . Twelve kinds of ice are carved into twenty nostalgic vignettes, illustrated in elegantly scratched detail by the award-winning Barbara McClintock.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…Ellen Bryan Obed's perfect snowflake of a book…[is] an ingeniously crafted memoir of Obed's dreamy childhood in Maine, built around the 12 kinds of ice that served as successive signposts of the advancing season…Barbara McClintock's engraving-like illustrations, all black and white, capture New England's austerity and beauty in winter, and the swirling lines of skaters in motion.
—Susan Dominus
Publishers Weekly
Like a souvenir from a bygone era, this homage to rural winter celebrates the gradual freezing of barn buckets and fields, the happy heights of ice-skating season, and the inevitable spring thaw. Obed (Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?) crafts an autobiographical first-person narrative of a farm family and lists her dozen crystalline varieties in ascending order. “First Ice” glazes “the sheep pails in the barn”; a second heftier ice lifts “like panes of glass.... in our mittened hands”; another ice, thicker still, heralds after-school skating. Short-lived pleasures, like sinister see-through “black ice” on Maine’s Great Pond, give way to homespun fun on a DIY rink built on the vegetable patch. McClintock (A Child’s Garden of Verses) sets cozy mid–20th century scenes with her crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations; children, bundled in woolly layers, imagine themselves Olympic figure skaters and twirl to the sound of “John Philip Sousa marches, Strauss waltzes, Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.” This quaint volume could have been written 60 years ago, alongside One Morning in Maine and The Little Island. Today’s readers will marvel at the old-fashioned amusements, chronicled with folksy charm. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

- A Junior Library Guild Selection
- A Winter 2012-13 Kids' Indie Next List Pick
- Kirkus Best Children's Books of 2012
- Booklist's Editors' Choice list for 2012
- NYPL 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing, 2012

“[A] perfect snowflake of a book. . . this is a book about a young woman’s deep connection to nature and her family, but also the thrilling reward of pitching in together to create something magical”
New York Times Book Review

“Snug and elegant, evocative and fun, Ellen Bryan Obed's memoir from her childhood winters in Maine skates along in an aesthetic pas de deux, as you might say, with Barbara McClintock's graceful black-and-white drawings.”
The Wall Street Journal

"Evocative and at the same time marvelously real, this is as much about expectation and the warmth to be found in family and friends as it is about cold ice . . . Everyone will find this a small gem."
Booklist, starred review

Kirkus, starred review

"This is a celebration of play, of winter, and of imagination . . . in an icy collection whose overarching quality is warmth."
Horn Book

"Like a souvenir from a bygone era . . . Today's readers will marvel at the old-fashioned amusements, chronicled with folksy charm."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Delicate pen-and-ink illustrations enhance the action, emotions, and humor of each short description of ice and frost goings-on. . . . [A] brief but unforgettable volume."
School Library Journal, starred review

"The rituals and humor connected with a timeless childhood experience unspool seemingly without effort from author and artist in this intimate volume."
Shelf Awareness, starred review

“This is a joyful, spirited gem of a book, as bracing and glorious as a perfect stretch of ice.”
—Newbery Honor author Joyce Sidman

"A book like this one doesn’t come along every day. Would that they did.”
—Betsy Bird, Fuse#8 blogger

"Obed's prose is crystalline: clear, pure, and entrancing. But the real subject of the book is not ice, but happiness; a happiness so contagious that readers of all ages will close the book with a sigh."
—Laura Amy Schlitz, Newbery Medal winner of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village

"Ellen Bryan Obed's prose transported me to my own childhood of all kinds of ice-some very dirty and bad, others grand and ethereal-nevertheless, all full of adventure, reminding me, too, of the great joy of winter. The beauty of Obed's prose is matched perfectly by McClintock's art. Who else could make a chilly subject look so warm? It is a marvelous book."
—Chris Raschka, Caldecott Medal Winner of The Hello, Goodbye Window

"Twelve Kinds of Ice is a wonderful book. Ellen Bryan Obed's storytelling voice is magical, and with Barbara McClintock's delightful and evocative art the book creates an atmosphere as sharp and fresh as the winters of childhood and as satisfying as our happiest memories."
—Reeve Lindbergh, author of Our Nest

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Various kinds of ice are described with an eye for its skating capacity. Various stages of ice are noted: from a fragile skin on a water bucket, a plate of ice able to be picked up, to ice that stays in the bucket. The children skate on ice covering the meadow, ice on the stream, and finally ice on a pond. The five children and their parents create a 50' by 100' skating rink with boards at the side of their former vegetable garden. Then they spray it with water and make an ice rink. The neighbors come. Girls figure skate. Boys play hockey. At night the dad does tricks on the ice. They put on an ice show. Every last piece of ice is enjoyed until it is gone, and they find missing mittens and snow pucks. Then they dream of ice skating until the next season. Black ink drawings enhance the story. Sensitive young people will enjoy this celebration of ice skating. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—The coming of winter in the rural north brings ice. The first ice "came on the sheep pails…a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it." Gradually as the weather grows colder, the ice becomes field ice, "short-lived but glorious…," stream ice, black ice from "water shocked still by the cold before the snow." The ice and its activities continue until finally it becomes only fond memories as the narrator and her family enjoy never melting "Dream Ice," the kind that can be skated on until the first ice came again, "a skim so thin, it broke when we touched it." The brief, lyrical vignettes evoke each and every sense as readers share the cold, feel the bumps on ice, see the creation of "oozing yellow sun spots" as ice melts, and hear music at the skating party and the noise of children playing hockey. Delicate pen-and-ink illustrations enhance the action, emotions, and humor of each short description of ice and frosty goings-on. Regardless of where readers spend their winters, they are sure to enjoy sharing the author's memories of the season in Maine in this brief but unforgettable volume.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Winter on a Maine farm offers the joys of ice in all its forms. Icy childhood memories glisten in this magical series of nostalgic vignettes. From the first skim on a pail to the soft, splotchy rink surface at the end of the season, Obed recalls the delights of what others might have found a dreary season. The best thing about ice is skating: in fields, on a creek or frozen lake and, especially, on the garden rink. In a series of short scenes presented chronologically, the author describes each ice stage in vivid detail, adding suspense with a surprising midwinter thaw and peaking with an ice show. Her language shimmers and sparkles; it reads like poetry. Readers will have no trouble visualizing the mirror of black ice on a lake where their "blades spit out silver," or the "long black snake" of a garden hose used to spray the water for their homemade rink. McClintock's numerous line drawings add to the delight. They show children testing the ice in a pail, a father waltzing with a broom, joyous children gliding down a hill in a neighbor's frozen field. One double-page spread shows the narrator and her sister figure skating at night, imagining an admiring crowd. The perfect ice--and skating--of dreams concludes her catalog. Irresistible. (Memoir. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618891290
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/6/2012
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 340,250
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 7.14 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Bryan Obed grew up on a six-acre farm in Waterville, Maine, where she and her siblings waited for the first ice as most children wait for summer or Christmas or a birthday.
Ellen now lives with her husband in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. There they experience many kinds of ice coming each winter to area streams, lakes, and ponds, and to the nearby Piscataquis River.

Award-winning illustrator Barbara McClintock's art has enhanced many children's stories with fanciful costumes and incredible charming details. She is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle, The Battle of Luke and Longnose, and Dahlia. She lives in Connecticut.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Brings back wonderful memories of winter in Maine

    Reading Twelve Kinds of Ice was a unique treat for me. Written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Barabara McClintock, this is a simple and tender account that resurrects fond childhood memories to the surface. The setting is a place I am personally quite familiar with: Waterville, Maine. As a child, I spent six glorious years of my adolescence in Winslow, Maine; the only separation between the two towns being the Kennebec River. The vivid and mental pictures Obed writes of the cold Nor’ Eastern winter and the intrinsic anticipation of ice skating is seeded because that was what most kids embraced once the endless winter settled into that part of the country. Ms. Bryan Obed describes the natural progression from the first ice of “pail ice,” a paper thin precursor to the eventual garden ice of the Bryan Gardens ice rink. Barbara McClintock complements Obed’s words with her detailed ink-etched illustrations. Together, author and illustrator have accomplished a wonderful tale devoted to the innocence of youth. It is a time when children get to be children and play crack the whip as they careen with reckless abandon around the rink. Obed affirms the innocence through her references of young girls in all their flirtations who are taunted by young boys who could care less. The latter’s greater interest is consumed with passing the hockey puck and smacking it toward the end of its journey… the victory of a goal. This is the perfect tale for children both young and old. It is an affirmation that it is the simplicities in life that allow the memories to live within our souls forever. Thanks to both Ellen Bryan Obed for her poetic words and Barbara McClintock for her equally creative artistry in Twelve Kinds of Ice. It is the perfect escape for any season of the year. Quill Says: You’re never too old to experience the joy and memories a turn on the ice is certainly capable of delivering.

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