Pros: A nice story that captures the truth of the Blizzard of 1888.
Never had “a storm like that of March 13th ever reached the enormity of the blizzard of 1888“ (Marti 272). It was after reading Jose Marti’s New York Under The Snow, that I became aware of such a paralyzing storm that had “New York in its power, encircled, [and] terrified, like a prize fighter driven to the canvas by a sneak punch“ (272). After doing research to discover more about this paralyzing storm, I came across an historical fiction children’s book that shed light on the great blizzard of 1888. City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888 by Linda Oatman High is an organized book of the storm that started like baby’s kiss and ended with death. Because the story is in easy to digest rhyming lines with pictures to enhance the reading time, this historical fiction book is a great read for any child who while enjoying the read will also come to know of a real moment in time.
It started off like a beautiful spring day until it began to rain. As people left church on Sunday, the rain was “spraying a steady tempest from heaven” (High 1). It was unseasonably mild and nobody expected what was about to come their way, considering how happy city dwellers were of the new weather pattern that had defeated the cold weather. Laura Francesca Filippucci added to the idea of the rainy Sunday with picturesque view in calm colors of people coming out of church, some walking with umbrellas while others didn’t have one and were getting soaked under the falling rain while walking towards their horse driven carriages.
High said that “by nightfall the rain had turned to snow” (6). The blizzard came almost like a surprise attack. Nobody expected this storm that started to accumulate at record speed. What I like about City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888, is that while it shows the storm and how dangerous it really was, it also shows the story of one young girl who lived during that time. The story is brought alive by the young girl’s narration who navigates readers through the moments of the blizzard of 1888. She spoke of the hopes of going to the circus fighting winds and bustling through the mountains of snow. But then she also talks about the graveness of the storm and the things her family, friends and neighbors faced during that moment in history. I found this as a great way to make history fun for a young child.
At first the snow was viewed as a way to have fun. Though they had to battle through the snow, the snow that paralyzed New York was “an occasion of celebration [to have a] snow-party jubilation” (High 17). Filippucci’s inviting and warm art shows pictures of the young girl dancing to the violin player’s music and people having a jovial time. But what started off as a fun time “wasn’t as much fun as it had been when it first begun” when fallen poles were everywhere, food was running out and getting through the snow seemed harder and harder (High 19). People still tried to find their way to work, to make their daily living or to simply go to the store for milk. The picture on page 21 shows an image of people trying to make it through the storm and falling or simply being grasped by the fiercely blowing winds. This picture enhanced the poetical description that High seems to give. The “swiftly twirling winds twirled [people] like little dolls” (High 21).
There was snow everywhere so it was hard to see anything. With mountains of snow everywhere, it was hard for pedestrians to see where they were going . It was like a blanket of snow that covered the streets and sidewalks. “Intersections could no longer be distinguished, and one street looked like the next.” (Marti 273). Walking home was rather dangerous. Walking through it “was like a wild animal rattling a cage, attacking and fighting all in a rage” (High 16). You never knew what you were stepping into and it was hard to determine if your next step might be your last.
The snow came like a baby’s kiss and ended with death. Who would think that the city that never sleeps could actually be defeated by snow? Linda Oatman High did a great job in presenting this storm in free verse poetry for the enjoyment of a child. The story was easy to digest and rather enjoyable. City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888 is so worth the read.
High, Linda. City of Snow: The Great Blizzard of 1888. New York. 2008. Walker
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Marti, Jose. “New York Under The Snow.” 1888. Writing New York: A Literary Anthology. Expanded Edition. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: The Library of America, 2008. 271-277.