Some things are worth waiting for: Snow by Samuel Usher

posted in: Sam Usher | 8

Illustrator Sam Usher burst onto the scene two years ago with with a riot of colour and pattern in Can You See Sassoon?, which was shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award 2013. When your first book gets flagged up as a potential prize winner, there is some expectation and anticipation when it comes to future publications.

More than two years after Can You See Sassoon? was published, Usher is back, and like all good things, it has been worth the wait.

snowfrontcoverSnow by Sam Usher celebrates that wonderfully exciting feeling in the pit of your stomach when you open your eyes in the morning, draw back the curtains and… your world has been transformed by a deep blanket of snow. The potential for play, the white world waiting to be explored, the possibility to really make your own mark….ahh! Just how quickly can you get out there to delight in at all?

A young boy zooms through getting ready, frustrated by the time it takes his Grandfather to join him. Will it be worth the wait for other kids are already out there leaving footprints everywhere?

A whole lot of snowballs and a little bit of childhood magic later, Grandpa and child agree “some things are definitely worth waiting for“. With Snow, I couldn’t agree more.

snow_-_grandad

Usher’s illustrations are full of life and energy; there’s a comfortable looseness about them, and I cannot help but draw comparisons (in the best possible way) with Quentin Blake. Perhaps it is because the Grandfather in this story physically reminds me of Blake, with his bald pate and avuncular manner. But it’s also in the noses, the wonky fingers, the hand gestures and I love this stylistic echo. Indeed I get a real kick from these potentially vulnerable pen lines that speak to me of a real person, drawing a line that connects creator, story, reader and listener together.

With another contender for my favourite page turn of the year, showing how an almost plain white page can produce both gasps and a burst of warm delight, Snow is a wintry classic that will bring much delight and joy, however long you have to wait for it.

Snow_inside

Alas weather in our part of the world has been unseasonally warm so I don’t hold out much hope of snow any time this year. Ever the optimist, I instead made some snow to play with in the warmth of our kitchen.

Snow dough is a moldable yet friable substance akin to commercially available ‘moon sand’, made out of corn flour (corn starch) and oil. We mixed about one part sunflower oil to four parts corn flour, and just for good measure added in a few drops of peppermint essential oil so that our snow dough smelt like Christmas candy.

snow1

I smoothed out the snow dough to recreate that blissful untouched vista of snow, and brought out a load of playmobil people and plastic animals (matching those in the book where possible). A small pot of glitter, for pinching and casting over the scene to add a little extra sparkle completed the invitation to play.

snow4

Lots of tracks in the snow were made, and because the snow dough is moldable, caches of snowballs and even an igloo were also prepared.

snow2

The snow dough has a wonderful crunch to it when you mold it – satisfyingly just like real snow!

snow3

Cake and hot chocolate completed our afternoon playing in the “snow”.

snow5

Whilst playing in the snow we listened to:

  • Dean Martin sing Let it Snow!
  • Snow Day by Zak Morgan – we really love this one!
  • Snow Day Dance by The Fuzzy Lemons


  • Other activities which could work well alongside reading Snow include:

  • Creating your own snowstorm at home. Inspired by the ‘Snowstorm in China’ magic trick (click here to see in action – I’m assuming shiny trousers are optional), you – and the kids – could tear up large quantities of white tissue paper and then use fans to get the “snow” falling in your home.
  • Using a jam jar to male a snow globe. I particularly like this tutorial on Our Best Bites.
  • Researching how to make the best hot chocolate. Why not make a “science lab” with different types of milk, cocoa vs hot chocolate powder vs melted chocolate, optional extras like marshmallows or flaked chocolate and investigate different ways of making this wintry drink; kids will no doubt enjoy coming up with their own recipes. Here’s a comparison of different recipes to get you started.

  • I know at least one of my readers has already got snow this November (Hello Donna!), but has anyone else had the chance to play in snow yet this year? Or are you heading into Summer?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Snow from the publisher.

    8 Responses

    1. We love Can You See Sassoon? and can’t wait to read Snow.

      Thank you for the snow recipe, I love the idea of adding peppermint oil.
      Catherine recently posted..Katie’s London Christmas by James Mayhew

    2. I haven’t hear of snow dough before – it sounds great – and I love your hot-chocolate-tasting experiment – I’m first up for that one!

      And the book looks gorgeous – I can definitely see your comparison with Quentin Blake. Beautiful review, Zoe!
      Marjorie (MWD) recently posted..‘Love, Sex and Darkness in Books for Children’ – SCBWI India event 27 November 2014

    3. That expanse of white is a surprising delight, isn’t it! I love this book. And I’m really really excited that Sam is currently illustrating a book of mine – ‘Danny’s Day’. It is SUCH a treat having your story brought to life with brilliant illustrations.

    4. Marjorie, I’d love to do hot chocolate taste testing with you. I hope we get the chance one day!

      Pippa – great news – thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to see Danny’s Day.
      Zoe recently posted..Some things are worth waiting for: Snow by Samuel Usher

    5. Oh… This is new author to me! I just ordered the book. It will be a perfect addition to our annual “Twelve Books of Christmas.” Thinking it will be a great accompaniment to Rocco’s Blizzard. Haven’t seen that one yet either but have been anxiously awaiting it!
      Stacey recently posted..Picture Book Month & The Common Core

    6. I reserved this for Me, er, I mean Bagl the other week so even more keen for it to arrive at our library after reading this. I was thinking the same about the similarities with Quentin Blake, it is a style I love.

      Glad your girls enjoyed the snow dough, Bagl didn’t really know what to make of it when we did it a while back but I suppose it’s not snowed since he was about 11 months old. Hot chocolate tasting sounds amazing, not being a tea or coffee drinker it’s my hot drink of choice.
      Katherine recently posted..Walks in the woods

    7. Just discovered your blog – only read two posts and already triggered me off to want to try lots of things. Thank you!

    Leave a Reply to Marjorie (MWD) Cancel reply

    CommentLuv badge

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.