Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Story of Snow, by Mark Cassino (ages 5 - 11)

I was amazed this morning at the news of yet another snow storm barreling across the central and eastern United States. We've had a very mild January and beginning of February here in California, and yet first Europe and now the central and eastern U.S. are getting hit by snow storm after snow storm. A fascinating book for children to learn more about the science of snow is Mark Cassino's The Story of Snow. It makes a great book to read aloud with young elementary children, or a perfect nonfiction choice for older elementary students (in 3rd or 4th grades) reading nonfiction on their own.
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's WonderThe Story of Snow
The Science of Winter's Wonder

by Mark Cassino
with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2009
ages 5 - 11
available on Amazon and at your local library

Do you know how snowflakes are formed? That snowflake crystals almost always have six arms or six sides? Mark Cassino combines clear text with engaging illustrations to draw kids into learning about the scientific explanations for the formation and variety of snowflakes. Cassino, a fine art and natural history photographer based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, uses photographs of magnified snow crystals to highlight their intricate details and help kids understand their structure. The photographs are crisp and clear, and will "wow" kids and adults alike. He also uses simple line illustrations to explain the formation of the crystals, starting with a small speck that gradually gathers water vapors that attach to it and freeze in intricate patterns.

Cassino and Nelson take a complex subject, focus on the essential question and draw readers into learning more. I especially liked the straightforward text that will not overwhelm young readers trying to read nonfiction. For example,
"A snow crystal forms as it falls. As the snow crystal gets bigger and heavier, it starts to fall to earth. It keeps growing as it falls through its cloud, taking on its own special shape. The shape depends on how wet the cloud is and how cold it is."
In addition, Cassino and Nelson have used many traditional features of nonfiction which students need to learn to read: section headings, explanatory details, picture captions, and diagrams. It is a great book for third and fourth grade students to practice their own independent nonfiction reading.

Best of all? There are instructions at the end for catching and examining your own snow crystals! There are also a teacher's guide. For more photographs of snow crystals, check out Mark Cassino's blog or website.

If your child gets fascinated with this subject, I'd suggest reading Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this blog, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a good book, I will have to look for it at the library. If and when we dig out of the snow and ice to get to the library -- sigh. We've had so much more snow this year then normal and I'm so ready for spring :-)

    Thanks for the review. I just found your blog so I'm following now and I'm looking forward to more suggestions of books to share with my kids -- who are both big readers.