Review by Emma Davis
The Snowflake, written and illustrated by award winning Benji Davies, is a charming book to share with young children this Christmas. This new offering is a heart-warming festive tale, but written with subtlety and nostalgia. It definitely proves that you don’t need to have Father Christmas in a book for it to evoke feelings of magic and enchantment in the festive season!
This book features two main characters – a little girl named Noelle and a tiny little snowflake. Both are longing for something special and Benji Davies takes us on a wonderful journey with them, building excitement and joy as we wonder what will come of their wishes.
One winter’s night, high in the sky, a lone snowflake falls, whirling and twirling from the clouds. The poor snowflake is feeling scared and worried but a cloud reassures her that ‘you’re supposed to fall.’ She twists this way and that, tumbling down, feeling dizzy as the wind whisks her through the sky. Trembling as she falls, the snowflake drifts over hillsides, valleys and streams, wondering when she might land.
On this same night, Noelle is walking home with her Grandpa, wondering if it will snow. As they pass through the streets, Noelle spots a beautiful Christmas tree lit up brightly in a window. She wishes she had one like that. The drifting snowflake also spots this same tree, longing to be a star on the top. Time passes as Noelle continues to walk home, admiring lights in the windows, all different but all enchanting. The snowflake continues to whirl through the sky as it becomes colder, darker and windier. Just then, she hears a sound on the wind…. the tinkle of laughter as she spots more and more snowflakes, just like her, tumbling through the sky!
As Noelle continues her journey home, she spots a tree branch discarded on the ground. Her very own Christmas tree! She proudly takes it home where Grandpa and Mummy help her to decorate it before placing it outside on her window sill. There is just one thing missing from her tree – she wasn’t quite sure what it was but knew it was important. Whilst Noelle was thinking about this, the little snowflake drifted through the air, high above her house.
The next morning, as Noelle pulls open her curtains, she lets out a gasp as she notices a blanket of snow covering the landscape. Not only that, but she discovers what was so important that was missing from her tree. Sitting proudly at the top, was the very special snowflake. Feeling immense happiness, Noelle rushes outside to dance in the morning light. As she does so, the snowflake catches the sun and shines brightly like a star at the top of the tree.
Stunningly beautiful illustrations, including striking double page spreads really capture the magic of Christmas. There are subtle details — the more you read it, the more things you spot. This enchanting book is full of hope, making reading it even more touching after the challenging year we’ve experienced. Adults and children alike will delight in this gentle, festive tale.
Some ideas to accompany the book….
· Make your own paper snowflakes! For this, you need to start with a square of paper which you fold diagonally to make a triangle. Keep folding, forming a triangle each time and then cut little holes and shapes in it. When you unfold it, you’ll have a beautiful snowflake. If you’re making these in a group, you could compare them all afterwards, noticing how they’re all different.
· Use loose parts to create a Christmas tree. Mark out a tree shape on the floor with masking tape then use a selection of loose parts to decorate. This activity is fantastic as it is open ended so children are free to create how they wish. There are so many possibilities for what you could use – that’s the joy of loose parts! Why not try beads, glass nuggets, wood slices, corks, cotton reels, bottle tops and cones.
· Have fun with snowflake painting! You could use white paint with added silver bio-glitter for a sparkly effect. There are plenty of options for painting tools – your fingers, forks, doilies, potato mashers or cardboard tubes are just some ideas.
· Create a snowy small world scene with the children using cotton wool, arctic animals, white fabric, aluminium foil, mirrors, sequins and winter foliage. This is fantastic for encouraging creativity and imagination. Have a go at making up your own stories with the scene too.
· Have a go at retelling the story with the children, with an adult scribing their ideas. This shows the children that their words have meaning and also enables them to observe the writing process. Afterwards, the children can have a go at illustrating the ‘book’ which you could share photos of with parents and carers.
Why not share your efforts as part of our Christmas Crafting competition and win a wonderful live animal experience for the children in your setting? https://thatnurserylife.com/content/christmas-competition-share-your-christmas-crafts