From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4-A girl describes the annual winter carnival in Saranac Lake, NY. Its centerpiece is an enormous ice palace, constructed in recent years not only by villagers, but also by crews from Camp Gabriels, a nearby minimum-security correctional facility. Each day, the 10-year-old and her father watch the building progress, block by block, with slush used as mortar. When the opening day finally arrives, it is a whirlwind of parades, games, races, and the crowning of a king and queen, culminating in spectacular fireworks. As the book ends, winter fades into spring, the ice palace melts away, and the child is left thinking about her Uncle Mike, one of the prisoners who helped construct the castle. He is due to be released and will perhaps participate freely in next year's activities. The text is poetic yet approachable. The description of the prison is straightforward without being alarming; it is "a place that keeps men away from other people for a while because they've broken the law." Rand's watercolor-and-acrylic illustrations capture the icy-blue feel of a small town in winter, with the brush strokes providing texture and layer to the story. Children will be fascinated by this unusual tradition, and the girl's personal relationship to one of the workers draws readers deeper into the tale.Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. Based on a winter a carnival in Saranac Lake, New York, first celebrated in 1897, this story mixes unusual elements: winter festivities, family ties, and a community partnership with prisoners from a local correctional facility. An 11-year-old girl relates how men from the village and prisoners cut huge blocks of ice from the lake to build the giant ice palace that becomes the centerpiece of the celebrations. Then comes the fun: 10 days of ski and skating races, hockey games, snowshoe volleyball, a costume parade, and fireworks. The lyrical text ("In Saranac Lake village, / when water hardens into ice / and the wind blows as fierce / as the bite of an Adirondack black bear . . ."), appears in free-verse form on the page and is accompanied by sparkling watercolors that convey the cold, the excitement, and the community spirit, as well as the physical and emotional challenges that the frigid tasks demand. An author's note provides historical background and context. Even kids from warm climates will be intrigued. Julie CumminsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved