Friday, September 30, 2016

September Spotlight on #OwnVoices: First Snow

By Bomi Park. Chronicle, 2016. 32 pages ISBN 978-1-4521-5472-5 Click to purchase

First published in South Korea in 2012, Bomi Park's debut is a dreamlike picture book that celebrates the wonder of the natural world. 

When an unnamed small girl awakens to the first snowfall of the season, she puts on her boots, coat, scarf and hat and heads outside. Never mind that the sky is still pitch black. That's all part of the sense of wonder we get from the pictures, shown in black, white and shades of gray. The only color initially is the red scarf the little girl wears around her neck, and the red stripe across her knitted mittens. The textured paintings are quiet and subtle and striking. 

With her puppy companion at her side, she begins to roll a snowball. She rolls and rolls, it gets bigger and bigger, and she gets further and further from home. Through a field, past an early morning train, through the dark woods -- there is nothing threatening in her snowy world. Rabbits, a fox, a deer, and even a bear watch her with curiosity, even reverence, as she steadfastly rolls, rolls and rolls. 

An interior spread from First Snow by Bomi Park
By the time she reaches a clearing, her snowball is twice as big as she is and it almost blocks her view of the dozens of other children who've had the same idea. They combine their snowballs to create a village of snowmen, all decked out in the children's hats and scarves. And then the children and the snowmen mysteriously lift off the ground and start to float away.  

But was it all a dream? Or her active imagination at play? The final page showing one tiny snowman in the little girl's back yard suggests that she didn't really roll all that far away from home. Unless, of course, the snowman floated down from the skies...

Bomi Park is an amazing new (at least to the U.S.) talent, and I hope this will be the first of many picture books we'll see from her. Kudos to Chronicle for finding and publishing this gem of a book, and for making it possible for a small girl in South Korea to roll her snowball all the way to the United States.

Reviewed by KT Horning


Helen Frost said...

This looks beautiful.
Thank you all for all your reviews this month!

Sarah said...

I just asked a friend in Korea to buy the original (in Korean) for me. I can't wait to read it with my daughter. Thank you for highlighting it!