City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888

City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888


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It was Sunday morning, March 11, 1888, and rain was falling, spraying a steady tempest from heaven.

With spring just around the corner, New Yorkers have no reason to suspect that one of the United States's greatest natural disasters is brewing. By Monday evening a ferocious blizzard would completely shut down the largest city in the country.

Trapped by the storm, a young girl and her family struggle on as even the smallest daily routines of life in the city grind to a halt— electric and telegraph lines go down, trains and buildings alike are buried in the snow, and the streets are impassable, with no way to deliver fresh food, milk, or coal for heat. Life must go on, but both the family and the city are forever changed by the awesome might and majesty of the Great Blizzard of 1888.

A pivotal moment in American history vividly brought to life by Linda Oatman High's free-verse narration and Laura Francesca Filippucci's detailed, timeless illustrations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802789105
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 10/01/2004
Edition description: Original
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 10.82(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.33(d)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Linda Oatman High is the author of fifteen books for children and teens. In addition to writing for children, she is also a journalist and songwriter who has played in several bands. Ms. High lives in Narvon, Pennsylvania, with her family, which includes a golden retriever named Angel and a Bichon named Ozzy.

Laura Francesca Filippucci was born in Milan, Italy, where she attended the Istituto Europeo di Design. She later specialized in children's-book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has worked for European and American magazines and publishers, including Simon & Schuster and Charlesbridge. Ms. Filippucci lives in Milan with her husband, also an illustrator, three children, and some goldfish.

Read an Excerpt

City of Snow

The Great Blizzard of 1888
By Linda Oatman High

Walker & Company

Copyright © 2004 Linda Oatman High
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0802789110

Chapter One

It was Sunday morning, March 11, 1888, and rain was falling, spraying a steady tempest from heaven. It drenched our heads and my best dress as Mama and Papa and I left church, umbrella-less. Purple and yellow crocuses shone in the stone gray afternoon. Springtime would soon arrive in the city of New York. The windows of stores were glorious, with mannequins wearing the springtime fashions as we rushed past, splashing and dashing through the wet weather, hurrying home to a Sunday dinner at the dismal end of winter. It rained Buckets all Sunday, and our roof began to leak. Our kitchen floor sopping, I prayed while I mopped, for the rain to stop. Tomorrow morning was P. T. Barnum's circus expedition. I'd been saving my money for the fifty-cent admission. Bargaining with Mama and God, I promised to be good and to cheerfully complete every chore, if only I could see Barnum's most famous tour: "The Finest Assembly of Trained Animals Since Noah," the newspaper did assure. Gazing at the rain making a lake of New York in the fast-growing dark, I thought perhaps Papa should build us an ark so we'd be sure to embark on our circus-day lark. By nightfall the rain had turned to snow, and gutters churned with slush. Sleet balls plinked across our roofs, above the house's nighttime hush, ice clip-clopping like a hundred horses' hooves. Howling winds rattled the windows like careless thieves, and the eaves wheezed, heaving as if the house were breathing. I slept as fitful as the wind and woke shivering in the night. The temperature had dipped, and whips of coldness crept through cracks in the plaster wall. Quivering in my quilt, I saw a sliver of white through my window, pale as a pitcher of milk. I leaped from my bed at daybreak, and ran straight to look out my window. What was below made my eyes ache: the blinding white of a city of snow. There were no roads, no wagons hauling loads, no ponies, no paper, no people, no milk, no meat, no streets, no trains on tracks, no teams, no hacks, no sidewalks, no paths, no thing but snow. Papa couldn't get to his job, and our old horse, Bob, was too hobbled and wobbly legged to pull our carriage through the drifts to the show. Gentle Bob stood patiently waiting for me to come skating with apples and carrots to his stable. His dappled back rippled as he whinnied and trembled. I whispered in Bob's ear, telling him not to fear. Even though the snow was fiercely wild, I was sure that the weather would soon turn mild. It was only a few blocks to Madison Square, so I begged Papa for us to walk there. Bundled in boots and wool, scarves and gloves and hats, Mama and Papa and I ventured outside like nervous cats but plodding like mules. Bitten by a bitter wind as we trudged in slow single file, we pushed and leaned, seeing crushed storefronts and sparrows frozen in snow, blown and tangled telegraph wires. We walked and walked, and as we trudged along, I crossed my fingers and hoped that P. T. Barnum's show would go on. We finally arrived at Madison Square, happily relieved that the circus was there. Lions and tigers and bears, a daring girl on a high-flying trapeze, a clown with a red-nosed sneeze, dancing dogs and prancing ponies, eighty-six fabulous acts in all. "The storm may be a great show," said Mister Barnum, in all his mirth, "but I still have the greatest show on Earth!" Applause scattered within the almost-empty big top, and all that mattered was that the fun would never stop. When the circus ended, we left the red tent and stepped, bent, into the quick icy wind as hats and trash whipped from the wind's wicked lash. Our faces glazed crystal, we battled the blizzard, which was like a wild animal rattling a cage, attacking and fighting all in a rage. The trolleys and trains could not move, and passengers were rescued, their faces white-blue. My lungs squeezed, and I could hardly breathe, as we hiked slowly toward home. We huddled by the stove and peeled off clothes that had froze. We decided to make the blizzard an occasion of celebration by having our own snow-party jubilation. Eating snow ice-cream with syrup, savoring the sweet, frosty flavor, Mama and Papa and I made party favors and played games with neighbors. Some whittled, some fiddled, some told riddles or sang hearty old songs to pass the time along. All day Monday, all Monday night, all day Tuesday, all Tuesday night, the blizzard continued its sharp, icy bite, coating the city with a blanket of white. The street outside was covered in wires from a fallen pole, and we were running low on milk and meat and coal. Now the blizzard wasn't as much fun as it had been when first begun. By Wednesday pedestrians tested their muscles, attempting to bustle through high piles of drifted snow. But swiftly whirling winter winds twirled them like little dolls. Bulky in layers of clothing, the walkers wore blizzard fashions dug from trunks hunkered in attics: dusty and musty hats and caps, skins of cats, bears, and muskrats all joined the scarves and mittens of many colors whisked away by winter winds, looking pretty as they littered the city. The blizzard ended Wednesday night, leaving behind a city of white.


Excerpted from City of Snow by Linda Oatman High Copyright © 2004 by Linda Oatman High.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MSblast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A step back in time that tells the story of a blizzard in New York City. The rhyme and rythem of this book is excellent.
VioletBramble on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I collect illustrated children's books and books about New York City -- this book is both. The story of the blizzard of March 11, 1888 , "the great white hurricane", which took New Yorkers by surprise and shut down the entire city. Actually, the entire east coast of the US was shut down for days. In those days the National Weather Service didn't work on weekends so nobody was prepared for this storm. The lack of preparedness contributed to the devastation. The illustrations are gorgeous.