4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The orphanage where 14-year-old Jenny lives is facing foreclosure, and she is determined to help. She persuades Old Jake, a retired sign painter, to resume painting holiday windows featuring the whimsical snow people he used to paint with his wife. Old Jake teaches Jenny how to paint the scenes, and they work as a team to raise money for the orphanage in the touching children's chapter book, Snow People: Good Overcoming Evil, by Allen Thomas. Meanwhile, Mr. Caldwell is a greedy banker with selfish motives. He schemes to proceed with the foreclosure, but help comes from an unexpected source. Can Jenny and Old Jake save the orphanage before it's too late?
This well-written book is 112 exceptionally-edited pages. However, instead of being classified in the young adult genre, its vocabulary and plot are best suited for children between the ages of 7-12. In addition to teaching the concept of good overcoming evil, the story contains an element of fantasy and presents themes of friendship, compassion, acceptance, loyalty, responsibility, perseverance, bravery, faith, and love.
In fact, I most liked the age-appropriate positive themes the book teaches through Jenny's character. For example, when Jenny meets Old Jake and learns of his sadness over his wife's death, she exemplifies love and compassion. As Jenny seeks a way to help raise money for the orphanage, she exhibits perseverance and responsibility. In another instance, she must demonstrate bravery to help a classmate. At the same time, Jenny is also relatable; despite her desire to help, she tends to be bossy.
I also enjoyed the portion of the plot involving the snow people. The author's vivid descriptions really bring the story to life. As I read, I could imagine the holiday windows painted with colorful scenes featuring whimsical snow people. Likewise, I think the book would be enhanced by the addition of illustrations. I won't reveal any spoilers, but as the story of the snow people unfolds, children will be delighted.
I have one concern involving safety. When Jenny meets Old Jake for the first time, her bike has a flat tire, and he offers to take her to get it fixed. Without a moment's hesitation, Jenny gets into the truck with a stranger. I would caution parents to use this as a teachable moment. With younger children, emphasize that this scenario happened in a make-believe story, but that they should never, ever get into a car with someone they don't know. For older children who are reading it alone, I would use the example to begin a dialogue. "What did you think about page 7?" "What would you do if someone you didn't know offered you a ride?"
Overall, I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. While the safety caution bears noting, it doesn't detract from the book's positive themes and enjoyable story. I recommend it to young readers between the ages of 7-12. The book will also appeal to parents, teachers, and grandparents who enjoy reading chapter books with children.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like Cecilia_L's review? Post a comment saying so!