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WHY IS THE SNOW WHITE? by Heinz Janisch


by Heinz Janisch & illustrated by Silke Leffler & translated by Rebecca Morrison

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7358-4092-8
Publisher: NorthSouth

A pourquoi tale about how Father Snow sought colors for the snow from the flowers is fodder for a father’s winter bedtime tale.

Once, the snow was clear and colorless, but a meadow of brilliant flowers leads Father Snow to wonder what colored snow might be like. The violet is willing to lend him some of her color, but just as the snow starts to turn purple, she grabs her hue back: “But I…I need my color.” He gets the same reaction from the yellow sunflower, the red rose, the green blade of grass, the blue cornflower and many other brightly colored flowers. Finally, he queries one last flower, white with tiny bells, and the snowdrop grants the snow her white color. Didacticism runs rampant through Janisch’s translated text, seen most clearly in the adverbs: The flowers all snatch their colors back hastily, impetuously, bitterly, carelessly. But what makes it so confusing is that Leffler’s illustrations never make it clear what the flowers are so afraid of—their unexpected and uncalled-for rudeness seems both out of place and over the top, since they are never portrayed as colorless, even while Father Snow tests out their colors. Her flowers have an old-fashioned color and style to them, and Father Snow is a transparent outline that takes on the color of the anthropomorphized bloom he is speaking to.

Humorless and illogical. (Picture book. 4-8)