cover image The Blizzard

The Blizzard

Betty Ren Wright. Holiday House, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1656-1

Shortly after Wright's (Pet Detectives) understated yet atmospheric tale opens, young Billy trudges through the snow to his one-room schoolhouse, sulking because an impending snowstorm has prevented his five cousins from coming to celebrate his birthday. When the snow blocks all the roads, threatening to strand the children at the schoolhouse, the teacher announces that they will all go and spend the night at Billy's farmhouse, the only one within walking distance. More than a dozen strong, the children and teachers form a hand-holding chain as they wade ""through the great white sea."" The kids all pitch in to help with the chores and then stage a snowball fight before sitting down to an impromptu feast. As their teacher plays the piano (""It's not every day I get a chance to play the piano!"" she says gamely), the youngsters sing loudly, ""drowning out the wind,"" then enjoy birthday cake (and two pies) before settling down to sleep. Equally successful at capturing the blustery blizzard outside and the warmth indoors, Himler's (A Picture Book of Lewis and Clark) lifelike, watercolor-over-pencil art conveys just the right homespun, folksy feel. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)