Houghton Mifflin 2012
Written by Ellen Bryan Obed
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

With the first ice - a skim on a sheep pail so thin it breaks when touched - one family's winter begins in earnest. Next comes ice like panes of glass. And eventually, skating ice! Take a literary skate over field ice and streambed, through sleeping orchards and beyond. The first ice, the second ice, the third ice…perfect ice…the last ice… Twelve kinds of ice are carved into twenty nostalgic vignettes, illustrated in elegantly penned detail by the award-winning Barbara McClintock.

*Junior Library Guild Selection
*School Library Journal's 100 Magnificent Children's Books of 2012
*New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
*Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 2012
*Booklist's Notable Children's Books: 2013
*CCBC Choices list for 2013
*Starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, Shelf Awareness and Publishers' Weekly
*Winter 2012-13 Kids' Indie Next List Picks
*BookPage Best of 2012 list

"Irresistible." — Starred, Kirkus

"Everything about this small book is precise. Twenty short chapters introduce the different kinds of ice that take one family through the winter, while McClintock’s pen-and-ink drawings, subtle yet celebratory, capture ice in all its incarnations. The first ice, you see, is a skim so thin it breaks when the children touch it. Second ice is like glass. But third ice doesn’t break. The narrator and her sister hear it coming: “We lay in our beds, listening to the cold cracking the maple limbs in the yard.” Field ice arrives as a narrow strip. Then stream ice, when you can watch fish swim beneath the surface. Black ice is a little scarier, but it’s good for skating. After the first snowfall, skating can be done at home on garden ice, made by packing the snow and turning on the hose. So it goes throughout the winter, as the family garden becomes a neighborhood hockey rink. When it’s perfect, it’s time for a skating party. Finally, the ice is gone. Lost mittens and pucks appear. But dream ice still exists—and you can skate on it no matter what the season. Evocative and at the same time marvelously real, this is as much about expectation and the warmth to be found in family and friends as it is about cold ice. Children who don’t live in a cold climate will wish they did, and everyone will find this a small gem."— Starred, Booklist

"There was this overwhelming sense of a huge loveable community, and that intrigued me to my core. Twelve Kinds of Ice taps into that same sense and feeling, and illustrator Barbara McClintock could certainly be seen as the second coming of Tudor sans the whole living like it’s the 19th century thing. Never adequately recognized as the genius she is, here her black and white pen and inks run rampant over the pages. Sometimes serving as spot illustrations, as humorous asides (as when the dad does his clown routine on the ice), and sometimes as glorious fantasy spreads over two pages, she consistently wows. I also enjoyed the fact that though the pictures seem timeless in a sense, they’re still contemporary (one girl sports a hoodie in the “locker room”, etc)." - School Library Journal
"Like a souvenir from a bygone era, this homage to rural winter celebrates the gradual freezing of barn buckets and fields, the happy heights of ice-skating season, and the inevitable spring thaw. Obed (Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?) crafts an autobiographical first-person narrative of a farm family and lists her dozen crystalline varieties in ascending order. “First Ice” glazes “the sheep pails in the barn”; a second heftier ice lifts “like panes of glass.... in our mittened hands”; another ice, thicker still, heralds after-school skating. Short-lived pleasures, like sinister see-through “black ice” on Maine’s Great Pond, give way to homespun fun on a DIY rink built on the vegetable patch. McClintock (A Child’s Garden of Verses) sets cozy mid–20th century scenes with her crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations; children, bundled in woolly layers, imagine themselves Olympic figure skaters and twirl to the sound of “John Philip Sousa marches, Strauss waltzes, Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.” This quaint volume could have been written 60 years ago, alongside One Morning in Maine and The Little Island. Today’s readers will marvel at the old-fashioned amusements, chronicled with folksy charm." — Starred, Publishers' Weekly

"In this joyous set of prose poems we follow a family through a winter, from first ice to black ice (“water shocked still by the cold before the snow”) and from field ice to dream ice, enjoying, along the way, ice plucked from the top of a bucket (“we had seen it coming in the close, round moon”), a homemade hockey rink, a goofy dad’s ice capades, and the exhilaration of speed (“our blades spit out silver).” In Obed’s lilting words and McClintock’s energetic yet cozy line drawings, reminiscent of Erik Blegvad, we meet the Bryan family, the neighbors, and the college students who drop in to skate and roast marshmallows. This is a celebration of play, of winter, and of imagination (“We looked beneath the ice and saw what we could not see in summer—boulders and cracks between boulders, black shadows and sunken tree branches. And we saw what was not there—the sullen backs and open jaws of hibernating monsters rising up from the lake bottom”) in an icy collection whose overarching quality is warmth." - Horn Book

"Twelve Kinds of Ice" is an exquisite little book for 6- to 10-year-olds and their parents. Snug and elegant, evocative and fun, Ellen Bryan Obed's memoir from her childhood winters in Maine skates along in an aesthetic pas de deux, as you might say, with Barbara McClintock's graceful black-and-white drawings.
Ms. Obed begins by remembering the first ice of the winter, which "came on the sheep pails in the barn—a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it." Second ice is thicker, "like panes of glass." Third ice doesn't break: "We hit it with the heels of our boots. . . . But the ice stayed firm."
     The thickening of the ice leads to the great seasonal joy for the Bryan children. Each year their father built an outdoor rink, carefully watering it nightly. "And when Bryan Gardens was ready, the whole neighborhood knew," we read. "The school bus passed our place going up the hill so everyone could see the ice's glassy surface shining in the sun." Figure skaters and hockey players jostled for ice time; there was the thrill of an ice show and the agony of surprise thaws. With spring came the last ice of all: dream ice, which never melts. Ms. McClintock leaves us visualizing this dreamy stuff, with girls skating arabesques along telephone wires and boys playing hockey in the clouds." —WSJ

Nostalgia is explicit, and specific, in Ellen Bryan Obed’s perfect snowflake of a book, “Twelve Kinds of Ice.” Truth be told, it is unclear exactly what kind of child would find the book entrancing: sophisticated enough for good readers, it is sparsely, if deftly, illustrated and has no vampires or brand names or even a dramatic plot to suck someone in. But it is nonetheless an ingeniously crafted memoir of Obed’s dreamy childhood in Maine, built around the 12 kinds of ice that served as successive signposts of the advancing season. It starts with the first ice that “came on the sheep pails in the barn — a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it.” And it takes readers through various delights as December turns to January and February.
      Even more powerful than Obed’s evocations of the thrills of physical sport are her swift, indirect characterizations of her family, who worked hard to transform what was usually the vegetable garden into a skating rink, making them neighborhood stars. Obed’s father not only let all the local children put on an ice show in his rink, piping John Philip Sousa through the house windows, but provided the entertainment, skating around with a lemon pie that ended up making contact with Grandpa’s face. This is a book about a young woman’s deep connection to nature and her family, but also the thrilling reward of pitching in together to create something magical. Barbara McClintock’s engraving-like illustrations, all black and white, capture New England’s austerity and beauty in winter, and the swirling lines of skaters in motion." — New York Times

"This is a short (just 64 pages) and beautiful book that tells the story of one winter’s worth of ice. It starts with the thin ice that forms on a pail of water during the first freeze and continues with the ice that is perfect for a skating party. Even when winter draws to a close and what’s left of the ice are the thawed-out mittens, you know that some ice always remains: the ice of your memories. This book will have you hoping for a pair of skates under the tree and chilly days this winter." — The Washington Post

"The rituals and humor connected with a timeless childhood experience unspool seemingly without effort from author and artist in this intimate volume.
A book for the entire family, Twelve Kinds of Ice may be read in one sitting and returned to again and again. Ellen Bryan Obed, who grew up (and still resides) in Maine, describes the harbingers of winter's great gift: ice strong enough to hold a community of figure skaters and hockey players, at a rink they call Bryan Gardens. "The first ice came on the sheep pails in the barn--a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it," she writes, as Barbara McClintock portrays a toddler breaking the pail's surface. Other meditations capture the wonderment of transformation: "Stream ice," at the spot where the Bryan family fished for trout in the spring; and "what was our vegetable garden in summer became our skating rink in winter" ("Garden ice"), a 100' x 50' magnet for skaters near and far.
The author introduces a breathtaking two-page vista of the Great Pond, half an hour away, as the children speed the length of the lake on "a day of black ice and silver"; McClintock draws the children on their silver blades amid the majesty of the surrounding shoreline, boulders and coves. It's an homage to the simple pleasures, accompanied only by sounds of laughter, skates piercing the ice and the occasional tussle over whether it's time for pucks or spirals." — Shelf Awareness

Buy the book >>