HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: First Snow
Author: Helen Coutant
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
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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.