Samson in the Snow
by Philip C. Stead
In case you haven’t heard of them, Philip and Erin Stead are a children’s literature power couple. My students adore their Caldecott-winning collaboration A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and Erin’s The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles is currently in the lead for our 2017 Mock Caldecott project. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing Philip’s Samson in the Snow with my students, and I just know they are going to love it!
Kirkus Reviews calls this book “a depiction of deliberate acts of kindness,” which is a fantastic description of a sweet story. A wooly mammoth ponders friendship and seeks out an opportunity to do a kind deed for someone else. It’s an extremely simple story, but gives so much depth to the characters. I can see this book being a great fit throughout the elementary grades, as there are so many layers of the story for older kids to uncover. With rich illustrations filled with opportunities for inferencing (where is the little red bird?), teachers are going to love using this book as a classroom read aloud. It’s also a great fit for bedtime, as the story teaches the importance of empathy. By showing how a wooly mammoth can empathize with a little red bird and a tiny mouse, Stead’s beautiful story teaches us to bridge our differences in order to help one another.
“All around, the world was different from before. Samson could hardly tell what was where and where was what. Every direction was white snow.”
On doing what you can:
“’It is better to walk than to worry,’ he decided. And so he did.”
A summary of this story would likely be very short, which is part of its magic. This is a great example of a “seed story” – a story of one event that pulls in the reader. Samson’s trip through the snow makes a great mentor text for when students are writing fiction or narratives.
This read aloud would be a great way to kick off a Kindness Challenge, or simply bring a reminder of empathy into students’ lives. I believe that the ability to connect and care for others is one of the most important skills we teach in schools, and this book helps us do just that.