Twelve Kinds of Ice
by Ellen Bryan Obed
ill by Barbara McClintock
Houghton Mifflin, 2012
Conventional wisdom is that publishers don’t publish quiet stories. And 99% of the time, that is true. And I am usually not a huge fan of quiet stories anyway, at least ones that have no linear structure, no tension, no payoff.
But this charming…I’m not even sure what to call it…won me over. It’s 3400 words, and it’s really more memoir than story. It’s 20 vignettes about the author’s family traditions around ice and ice skating. And it’s enchanting.
I’m not sure I ever would have picked this up, but I’m glad Houghton Mifflin sent me a copy. I avoided it for a few weeks, letting it sit on the piano like a letter nobody wanted to answer. But finally, I picked it up one evening and read it straight through. And I was delighted.
When the figure skating hour was over, the boys leapt onto the ice like steers out of pens at a rodeo. They made sudden stops and starts; they smacked pucks against the boards; they circled forward and backwards. Soon they were lost in a tangle of sticks and arms and legs and voices.
Ellen’s voice and details are lovely, and her tales made me long for the kind of idealized childhood she presents here.
This book may be pretty quiet for kids accustomed to plot-packed novels. But I think it could be very cool to use this book in the classroom as a mentor text when you’re writing personal narratives or memoirs, or if you want to write about family traditions.
See some art and an interview with the artist at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Check out the book and all the great reviews and honors it’s received!
(Review copy provided by the publisher.)