A rare example of a winter themed picture book set in an urban environment, the best known of which is Ezra Jack Keats’ similarly titled The Snowy Day. That book famously achieved distinction by casting black children but refused to make reference to their race. Here Komako Sakai does the same, except with rabbits.
Sakai possesses the same rare skill as Beatrix Potter in creating anthropomorphic animals that are so believable we can happily accept them in an incongruous setting.
Pains have been taken to make this world of tower blocks and sodium lamps feel like somewhere a rabbit mother and child might live; from bunny sized slippers to the construction of snow monsters rather than men.
The coming of the snow is just the beginning. The agony of waiting to go outside is amplified by the confines of the rabbits’ high rise home. Together on the balcony, the snow offers a moment of quiet contemplation as the city comes to a halt.
Full gratification is delayed until the final act, when mother and child finally set out into the white city where night has fallen – another unusual element in a picture book set in winter.
The dark adds another layer of quiet to the already muffled pages whose muted tones are a salve against some of the primary coloured Christmas illuminations that surround us at this time of year.
The Snow Day by Komako Sakai is published by Arthur A. Levine.