Although the temperature has dropped markedly here this week, there’s no snow on the horizon. Yet.
Nevertheless I wanted to share Snowflakes with you right now, a début picture book by Cerrie Burnell (a CBeebies – children’s TV – presenter), illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. We’ve had fun with this book and I’m hoping you might want to try out what we got up to, and to do that you’ll need to gather your materials now, whilst autumn is still in the air.
What you’ll need is a selection of dried seed heads, of the cow parsley variety, and there are plenty of these about at this time of year if you can find a bit of open land, perhaps in a park or out on a walk.
As you’ll see below, these beautiful seed heads in all their variety of shapes and sizes can make the most beautiful snowflakes. And snowflakes, each different, and each perfect, is the literal and metaphorical image used in Burnell and Anderson’s sweet tale about friendship and diversity, a tale which will outlast any wintry season.
Mia has left her family in the city and moved in with her “Grandma” in the countryside. No explanation for this is given, though it is easy to imagine Mia has been adopted or fostered. The changes are unsettling and Mia feels very different to the other children she sees (perhaps not least because she has brown skin, whereas all the other children in the village school are white, a detail only apparent from the illustration, not the text).
Seeing a beautiful landscape can make any of us feel better and more connected, and that’s true for Mia too; one evening when she watches snow fall and sees how each snowflake is unique, Mia realises “that it didn’t matter how different she felt, she was perfect too.”
The illustrations (by the creator of the fabulous ‘Evil Emperor Penguin’ in the outstanding Phoenix comic) packed with plenty of bunting and gingerbread style houses are full of charm. If you’re after a picture book which is gentle and reassuring, full of glowing and quietly colourful images (despite the snow) which match and warm the spirit, Snowflakes (which reminded me of Atinuke’s brilliant chapter book Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus, which also explores themes of home, families and difference) is for you.
But back to the seed heads.
Once you’ve gathered a selection, spray paint them silver.
Whilst they’re drying, paint a polystyrene tray bright sky blue.
Once tray and seedheads are dry, use a pencil to create small holes in your polystyrene tray, snap off the silver seedheads to leave just a cm or so of stem, and insert.
With just a little patience (waiting for the paint to dry) you’ve created a 3D snowflake diorama to bring a sprinkling of sparkle into your home whatever the season! (This same technique, but with black paint, could be used to create a starry night-time constellation).
Now we’ve got snow falling in our kitchen 🙂
Whilst making it snow we listened to:
Other activities which you could try alongside reading Snowflakes include:
If you want another activity using dried cow parsley type flowers, do think about building a bug/bee hotel like we did here.
Have you already started planning ahead for a season yet to arrive?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.
Laura Ellen Anderson @Lillustrator
Cerrie Burnell @cerrieburnell