First Snow


Book: First Snow

Author: Helen Coutant 

Illustrator: Vo-Dinh

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974

ISBN-13: 9780394928319 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0394928318 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 9780394828312 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0394828313 Paperback 

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 5-10

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Children’s book

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Coutant, Helen.  First Snow (Publisher in 1974 by Borzoi Books, a division of Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York City, NY).  Lien, her parents, and her grandmother, live in a small New England town, having come from Vietnam.  They had arrived in summer when the new climate was hot and not that different from the heat of the tropics that they had always known.  But now it is December, and everyone is expecting the first snow, especially Lien who has never experienced snow.  However, the coming of cold weather causes Lien’s grandmother, who is already old and weak, to fall sick.  Finally, the doctor announces that Grandmother is dying.  

     When Lien asks her parents what that means, they don’t give her an answer but just pick her up and hold her.  Then, she decides to ask her grandmother what it means.  Can Grandmother use the first snow that the little Vietnamese girl has ever seen to illustrate what death means?   Will Lien come to understand how death can be accepted as a natural part of life?  First Snow explains dying in a gentle, beautiful way that toddlers and small children can relate to, and would be especially be useful for children who are losing a loved one.

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