by Rebecca Rule
Islandport Press, 2012
What do seven kids do on a cold winter day when rain and sleet have created a thick crust of ice on top of the snow? It’s so slick and icy that sledding seems impossible”almost. Lizzie and her friends convince her grandfather to let them try to push his old-fashioned travis sled, a long, bench-like sled on runners, uphill so they can fly downhill, down the highest, mightiest, iciest sledding hill off Old Mountain Road. New Hampshire storyteller Rebecca Rule brings her trademark wry sense of New England humor to this delightful tale of a wild sled ride. Connecticut artist Jennifer Thermes’s beautiful watercolors are so full of motion, you’ll be holding on to your hats and scarves for this one.
*Kirkus Starred Review* A young girl’s first-person narration brings a New England sled ride to life. But this isn’t just any sled ride. Inspired by ice-crusted snow, Grampa Bud’s yarns of his childhood, and a giant homemade double-runner sled, seven friends set out to conquer the highest, mightiest, iciest sledding hill. Rule lengthens out one sled run into an entire book, but its pace is not slow and clunky, nor does it drag. Instead, she marvels in the details along the way, building up the suspense. Comically, the children attempt to get themselves and the sled to the top of the hill, taking each other out like dominoes as they relentlessly and repeatedly slide down to form a pig pile at the bottom. When they finally manage it, Thermes beautifully conveys the awesomeness of the hill they have chosen to tackle; none of the kids will speak their fears aloud, though their faces say volumes. The trip down is accomplished in just a few spreads, a ride so fast that tears, fears, screams and laughter all get whipped, like a beautiful scarf trailing wildly behind. The watercolors give a wonderful array of viewpoints, showing the path of the sled run as well as close-ups of the children: fresh-faced and having the time of their lives. Parents beware: Children are likely to scout out the highest hill to try to replicate this amazing run.
(Picture book. 4-8) –Kirkus Reviews
From School Library Journal: Gr 1-3-Lizzie and her brother want to go sledding with their friends on the first day of February vacation. The hills are too icy for their snow saucers, but Lizzie’s grampa has a homemade travois sled that the children can use. They make their way to the “highest, mightiest, iciest sledding hill off Old Mountain Road,” which is covered with a hard crust of ice, making it nearly impossible to climb. At last, by clinging to the trees at the edge of the field, all seven kids make it to the summit. With some trepidation, they pile onto the sled and off they go. They fly down the hill, forgetting their fear. When they reach the bottom, someone cries, “Let’s do it again.” And so they do. Rule sprinkles the exciting adventure with some lovely imagery (“The world was ice and we were skaters without skates” and “The wind whipped our screams and laughter like a beautiful scarf trailing wildly behind”). Her lyrical tone mirrors the picturesque charm of Thermes’s watercolor illustrations. The faces of the characters alight with anticipation and the crisp, snow-covered landscapes perfectly capture the joy and freedom of a carefree childhood. Young readers will shiver with delight along with the intrepid sledders as they stare down at their town, spread out below them, so tiny and far away. Pair this old-fashioned New England adventure with Ezra Jack Keats’s classic urban snapshot of winter, The Snowy Day (Viking, 1962) or Emily Arnold McCully’s First Snow (HarperCollins, 2004). –Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston
From Booklist: It’s freezing outside, but narrator Lizzie and her pals (Patty H., Patty P., the three LaPierres brothers, and her little brother, Robert) are willing to brave it just for the fun of sliding and jumping on the frosty backyard slope. Then Lizzie gets an idea: convince Gramps to let them borrow his “travis sled.” Built back in the day, the long sled can seat a passel of kids, and the runners make for extra speed. It’s possible to say not much happens in the story. The children take the sled up the steep hill (a challenge that results in several tumbles) and then they slide down. But this is told with so much joie de vivre and illustrated with such humor and gusto that readers will have almost as much fun as the sledders. Although the story seems to be set in the present, the fact that Gramps, as a kid, slid past the blacksmith’s shop points to an earlier era. Besides, it’s hard to imagine today’s protective parents allowing all this (dangerous) hilarity. Icy, dicey, and scary for sure! Grades K-3.–Ilene Cooper
When an icy crust forms over the snow, Lizzie and her friends have one thing on their minds: sledding. Lizzie persuades her Grandpa Bud to lend her the homemade sled he used as a child, and the children make the difficult climb up a slick, crusty hill of ice. Rule and Thermes gracefully depict the exhilaration of snowy play and the wisp of anxiety that comes as they gaze down the intimidating slope. There s a nostalgic air to the book; Lizzie s story reads like one that she ll pass down to later generations, just like Grandpa Bud’s stories and his sled. –Publishers Weekly