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Twelve Kinds of Ice

The rituals and humor connected with a timeless childhood experience unspool seemingly without effort from author and artist in this intimate volume.

A book for the entire family, Twelve Kinds of Ice may be read in one sitting and returned to again and again. Ellen Bryan Obed, who grew up (and still resides) in Maine, describes the harbingers of winter's great gift: ice strong enough to hold a community of figure skaters and hockey players, at a rink they call Bryan Gardens. "The first ice came on the sheep pails in the barn--a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it," she writes, as Barbara McClintock portrays a toddler breaking the pail's surface. Other meditations capture the wonderment of transformation: "Stream ice," at the spot where the Bryan family fished for trout in the spring; and "what was our vegetable garden in summer became our skating rink in winter" ("Garden ice"), a 100' x 50' magnet for skaters near and far.

The author introduces a breathtaking two-page vista of the Great Pond, half an hour away, as the children speed the length of the lake on "a day of black ice and silver"; McClintock draws the children on their silver blades amid the majesty of the surrounding shoreline, boulders and coves. It's an homage to the simple pleasures, accompanied only by sounds of laughter, skates piercing the ice and the occasional tussle over whether it's time for pucks or spirals. --Jennfier M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness