Written and illustrated by Bernadette Watts
(NorthSouth Books; $17.95, Ages 4-8)
English author and illustrator Bernadette Watts brings her inspiration for nature into The Smallest Snowflake, a heartfelt story about a little snowflake who journeys to earth with the other snowflakes while holding her dreams quietly in her heart.
Watts’ writing brings life to the small pieces of ice each sharing their excitement about their winter voyage. Flowing from the clouds, they see “fields and the orchards, the red roofs of farms, and the lovely city standing at the end of the glacial lake.” The verses read as human characters with each snowflake declaring where they wish to travel. The snowflakes feel relatable as if they are people sharing their dreams.
Watts empowers the snowflakes with personalities that flow through the story like beloved friends. We meet a snowflake who chooses to travel to a different land and settle on a tree branch, and another snowflake wishing to “watch the caribou and bear, the lynx and raccoon, and even the red squirrel who sleeps in that very tree.” The soft palette of brown, green, and orange are spread across two pages with a bear gazing at the tiny animals gathered on the tree. A blue sky covers another page overlooking the sea. It’s beautifully sprinkled with white snow flowing over the battlement of castle walls.
Each page turn takes the reader to a new location. The snowflakes flow from jeweled domes to the golden pinnacles of St. Basil’s Cathedral, while people are huddled together in the streets trying to stay warm from the frost. Many of the snowflakes keep traveling on.
“The littlest snowflake did not have such a wide education as the others and knew very little about the world.” Watts’ white mountains are topped with snowflakes and birds flying through the pages. “I just want to be warm.”
It isn’t often that you think of a snowflake as wanting to be warm, but this earnest piece of snow is determined to find its place. When most of the snowflakes come to rest, the littlest snowflake continues to travel. She eventually lands on a windowsill and finds a home in a window box filled with earth outside a tiny cottage. It was here the little snowflake took her place.
The little snowflake sees the burning logs and a kettle standing on the hearth. The home is warm and friendly. Watts’ words and drawings fill this story with joy and comfort, whether reading beside a crackling fireplace or tucked warmly in a bed. The yellow sun and blue sky are drawn on the final page as spring nears. The closing words read, “loved filled her heart with such warmth that she melted away with joy.” A perfect sentence to end with. This is a lovely read teaching kids to follow their destiny, even if their destiny is different from others.
- Reviewed by Ronda Einbinder