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For Young Readers

Book reviews of 'The Story of Snow' by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson; 'Crossing Stones' by Helen Frost; 'Struts & Frets' by Jon Skovron

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

THE STORY OF SNOW

The Science of Winter's Wonder

This Story

By Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson

Illustrations by Nora Aoyagi

Chronicle. $16.99, ages 7-10

Last month's snowfall was huge, especially considering that hundreds and sometimes thousands of tiny crystals make up just one of the snowflakes piled together on the sidewalks. The engaging "Story of Snow" -- featuring a succinct text, spare illustrations in gray-and-blue hues and magnified images of gorgeous snow crystals -- explains how snow is made (starting when water vapor sticks to a speck of anything, from dirt to ash to salt or bacteria). Illustrations show in delicate detail the different shapes crystals form (stars, plates and columns). Photographs capture the sixfold symmetry of a perfect star or plate snow crystal as well as the imperfections that are equally worthy of study: star crystals with one arm longer than the others, the 12-armed crystal formed when one crystal grows on top of another, the little bumps formed by water droplets. Along with "Snowflake Bentley," Jacqueline Briggs Martin's charming 1998 biography of the Vermont photographer who documented the uniqueness of snowflakes in the 19th century, this book will instill appreciation for these tiny, cool objects. At the end are directions on how to catch snow crystals and examine them. So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow -- but maybe not two feet of it!

-- Abby McGanney Nolan

CROSSING STONES

By Helen Frost

Frances Foster/Farrar Straus Giroux.


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