A Tuesday Ten: Snowtime!

I decided to do a list of books that featured snow as an important part of the setting since up here in the North East we’re starting to get snow and ice.  I was actually surprised at how many stories I found for this subject . . .


The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (Margaret K. McElderry, c1973)

Let’s start off with one of the classic stories that not only features snow and ice, but occurs at Midwinter, over the twelve days of Christmas, when darkness is at it’s peak.  Will Stanton has just celebrated his 11th birthday–now he must embrace his destiny and help keep the forces of evil at bay over the dark of midwinter!  This newbery honor from  The Dark is Rising Sequence is an exciting winter fantasy story of magic  and danger.


Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury, 2008)

Well naturally a book about the Norse gods and giants belongs on this list.  This year, winter isn’t ending and no one knows why.  Young Odd winds up heading out on a quest to find out.  Along the way he befriends some unusual animals who may be more than they seem.  But can one young boy outwit the giants that have taken over Asgard?  If Norse mythology is your thing, you might also check out D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (c1967).


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond Press, 2011)

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were friends . . . but lately things have changed and now Jack has disappeared.  It’s up to Hazel to go off into the snowy woods to find him.  In this story where the darkside of fairytales exists along the edges of contemporary reality, Hazel will encounter some chilling characters and have to use all her wits to survive and bring Jack home.  A reworking of Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but with a lot of elements of other stories woven in for good measure.


The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo (Scholastic, c1987)

Gwyn is given some strange gifts on his birthday, and when he throws one away to the blustery wind, he receives a silvery snow spider in return.  Snow and magic combine in this story to create an enchanting and suspenseful tale.  This is the first book in the author’s Magician Trilogy and still one of my favorites out of everything she’s written.  Perfect to curl up with on a night when the winter wind is howling outside.


Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, 2006)

This is the third story of Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training who is growing from a girl into a young woman, but still has a lot of learning to do.  Unfortunately, Tiffany’s  impulsive feet get her in trouble when she joins in a dance uninvited . . . and inadvertently disrupts the change of the seasons.  Now the Wintersmith–the spirit of winter–is courting her and causing whole heaps of trouble for Tiffany–can she set things right again?  These Tiffany Aching stories are part of Terry Pratchett’s much larger Discworld setting, but where most of the series is meant for adults, this group of stories is intended for younger readers.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (HarperCollins, c1843)

Now I couldn’t leave this classic off the list, could I?  On a cold and snowy Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is going to be haunted by several ghosts who are intent on rehabilitating this miserly and selfish old man . . . or at least warning him of the consequences.


Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela F. Service (Random House, c1987)

This book is my one combination of fantasy/SF on the list. Set in a post apocalyptic future, humanity struggles to survive in a more primitive fashion.  But in this strange new world, the balance has been tipped in favor of magic once more, and the powers of old are returning to the land, including Merlin himself!  This title contains the first two books in the New Magic Trilogy.


Winter Door by Isobelle Carmody (Random House, 2006)

The second book in the author’s Gateway Trilogy (not sure if there will ever be a third).  Rage Winnoway is back home, but her mother is still not fully recovered, and troubles still plague her life.  Now, something sinister is lurking in the wood and it may signal a danger for more than one world!  Our characters will have to travel through the Winter Door to discover what is going on . . .


Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce (Scholastic, 2002)

What happens when a young fire mage journeys to a place of ice and snow?  This is the  second book in The Circle Opens quartet, where our original characters are now on their journey to becoming adults and learning more about the world.  That won’t be easy.  Daja’s peaceful winter’s visit with her teacher quickly turns deadly when mysterious fires  start burning buildings and endangering lives.  But tracking down the culprit behind the fires may be more difficult than Daja imagined.


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (Delacorte, c1962)

Another classic story for the list.  This gothic alternate history story takes place in a world where bitter winter has set in, and wolves have invaded, hunting and putting those out in the element in danger.  Into this world are two poor little rich cousins whose parents leave them in the care of an evil governess who takes over their parents’ home and sends the girls to a cruel orphanage. While this first book is fairly well known, the other titles The Wolves Chronicles are much harder to get ahold of.

Okay, okay  this is going to be 3 books longer, simply because I couldn’t bear to leave any of these off the list!


 Calvin and Hobbes: Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel, 1992)

If you aren’t familiar with these comic strip characters–where have you been?  Calvin’s exploits in the snow: from creating disturbing snowmen, to building snowforts, to trying to land a snow ball on Suzy are hilarious and entertaining.  With the help of Hobbes, his sometime stuffed/sometimes real tiger friend, this is a collection not to be missed!


Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c1957)

I’d be remiss if I left off The Moomins.  This series about a family of white troll creatures is a great international treat, and a charming read.  In this story, our little moomintroll wakes up just after New Years, a time when all his family is sleeping over the winter.  At first the changed landscape scares him, but then he begins to discover the amazing beauty of winter.  Not to be missed.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S.  Lewis (HarperCollins, c1950)

Now seriously, did you really think I’d leave off the book that pretty much opens the doors to fantasy land with a snow covered forest?  When Lucy first comes through the wardrobe into another world, she finds a snowy clearing with a lampost in the middle of the forest.  Here is a world where it is always winter, but never Christmas, due to the rule of the white witch.  This is my anchor book for my snow list and I think I may have to just pull it out and read it again this week . . . and hope for snow.


What are your favorite snow fantasy reads? Comments welcome!

About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 18, 2013, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. My first thought was of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! Love Calvin and Hobbes, too. The Christmas and snow strips are some of the most hilarious.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  2. The Dark is Rising is still one of my all time favourite fantasy books – so atmospheric.

    I hadn’t realised how many snow-related stories I’d read until I read this list and found I’d read half of them.

    • I was a bit surprised how many I knew. I’m used to lists taking a bit of scurrying around to get a decent number of books for the last few in a topic. I actually was well over 20 books just brainstorming.

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