I have been a blog delinquent! The end of the library school semester and the holiday rush got the better of me, BUT with today’s snow day (for NYC students and librarians alike!), what better opportunity could I ask to hunker down and make…snowball cookies!
Ezra Jack Keats‘ The Snowy Day is a classic, with lovely collage illustrations. Peter wakes up one morning to discover the world outside his window is covered in snow. He spends the day enjoying small wonders–making crunchy footprint trails around the neighborhood, knocking snow off of tree branches, watching the bigger boys’ snowball fight and making a snowman and snow angels.
He tries to keep a snowball of his own, but discovers that a pocket makes a hazardous home for a snowball. (“He should have put it in the freezer!” a young reader suggested during storytime this week.) But the next day, there was more snow to enjoy anyway!
This book is subtle and simple. It featured an African-American protagonist in a mainstream picture book at a time when this was rarely the case. Although he didn’t address issues of race and class explicitly in his writing, Keats was a pioneer in simply getting images of children of color and children of cities into the children’s book world. The Snowy Day was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963 and has definitely stood the test of time. You can read more about its reception and influence here.
Snowball cookies make a great companion to this book. And, unlike Peter’s snowball, they won’t melt! (Though I still wouldn’t recommend putting them in your pocket…)
These are also know as “Russian tea cookies” and are pretty simple to make. They call for quite a bit of powdered sugar, which can end up swirling around in the air much like the snowy gusts outside my window today.
Simply mix a cup of butter with a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until it’s light a fluffy. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and flour and mix in 2 and a 1/4 cups of flour (gradually–unless you want to simulate a snowstorm in your kitchen!). Mix in 1 cup of chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts–whatever you like best).
Roll the dough into small balls (about 2 tablespoons of dough each) and bake in oven at 350° for 14-15 minutes. You only want the bottoms to be slightly brown–not too much.
Cool the cookies for a couple minutes, then roll them in powdered sugar. Then let them cool off completely and…roll them in powdered sugar again! (No such thing as too much powdered sugar.)
These are sooooo sweet. They are melt-in-your-mouth delightful. No doubt Peter (or any child!) would be happy to come home to these after a day of snowy exploration.