Step back into the glorious days of childhood with Ellen Bryan Obed’s lovely, lyrical tribute, Twelve Kinds of Ice, a book whose 64 pages can be easily devoured in one sitting and enjoyed by both children and adults.

Who knew there were so many types of ice, starting with “The First Ice,” a fragile sheet that appeared in a barn bucket when Obed was a girl growing up on the family farm in Maine. “The Second Ice” was a bit thicker, becoming a plaything that could be held, admired, then shattered into shiny shards. In each short chapter, excitement builds as the author remembers how she, her siblings and friends began each season by skating on a neighbor’s field, then on a frozen stream, and later in the middle of a lake, accelerating “to silver speeds at which legs, clouds and sun, wind and cold, raced together.”

The icing on this icy cake was the family’s annual ice rink, known as “Bryan Gardens,” which was built with boards and filled with a garden hose. “It was our Boston Garden,” Obed writes, “our Maple Leaf Gardens, our Montreal Forum. . . . It had just about everything that the great arenas had except a roof. But Bryan Gardens had the sky, and to us, that was the best roof of all.”

Barbara McClintock’s enchanting illustrations bring this winter kingdom to life, her graceful lines showing the skaters’ wonderful whirls and spins atop the many kinds of ice. She catches the thrilling runs of skaters heading downhill, zigzagging through an apple orchard on the magical day that a heavy crust of ice on snow turns the world into a rink. McClintock’s final spread is a whimsical creation, showing how these dreamy thrills live on throughout the year, after all the ice has melted.

Warm up some hot chocolate and cookies, light a fire and gather ’round on a cozy winter eve to read aloud Twelve Kinds of Ice. Then be sure to have everyone’s skates sharpened for your own outing.

comments powered by Disqus