Once Upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson
Published by Allen & Unwin|Faber
Date: 7 January 2019
There have been very few books that I have seen in my lifetime that have been wordless, the most reognisable to me is The Snowman. Once Upon a Snowstorm author/illustrator Richard Johnson has delved into this realm and created a visually, enchanting masterpiece that takes you on a journey with a father and his son where they live in a cabin in the woods.
Before I even opened the book I was captivated by the front cover. On the surface we see a boy, a bear and snow in the woods, but if you look closer that snow is in the shape of what looks to be deer. When I turned the first glossy page, a story began to form in my mind and my imagination was awakened and ready for each new illustration.
The book is essentially about a father and son who live alone in a cabin in the woods, but one day the boy gets lost and falls asleep. When he awakens, he Is surrounded by new friends in the form of woodland animals. When he begins missing his dad, he takes the animals home and his father opens his heart to love and nature.
This is the story line imagined by the author/illustrator, however given that the illustrations are your guide you can be adding your own ideas to it. It is the type of book where the story may differ each time, and sometimes you or your child may just want to look closely at the illustration and enjoy the silence of the book.
Richard Johnson is clearly a gifted illustrator and his pictures capture a lot of detail, such as the family picture on the wall but in the story, it is just the two of them, the animals that are shaped into the falling snow, and the very fine lines of hair and mice on bears body. This book invites you to spend time on each page and discovering the small things that you may miss if you were just reading through a story. One of the details that I found quite endearing is when the little boy returns home, some of the flowers are showing their yellow petals up out of the snow which to me signifies a time of newness and joy.
I encourage you to get a copy of this book and spend time discovering the boy, his father and woodland friends. Give your children and yourself the opportunity to delve into your imagination and see what these illustrations do to inspire it. A beautiful book with so much potential, with themes of friendship, family, love and adventure, I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Allen & Unwin/Faber, for the opportunity to read and honestly review this book.