Twelve Kinds of Ice
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Twelve Kinds of Ice

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  654 ratings  ·  213 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Newbery 2013
32nd out of 111 books — 995 voters
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21st out of 71 books — 64 voters

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Community Reviews

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Every year the children’s librarians of the New York Public Library system come together and create a list of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. The list, now entering its 101st year, originally had a dual purpose. On the one hand it was meant to highlight the best children’s books at a time when finding books written specifically for kids was difficult in and of itself (the “100” number idea came later). On the other hand, when printed out the list was intended to serve as a Christmas shopping...more
I’ve ice skated a lot in my life. Growing up in Northern Michigan, it’s bound to happen. I used to live around the corner from an ice rink and can remember completing lap after lap during open skate times. But the ice wasn’t just at the rink – when November hit, ice could pop up anywhere. It loomed large in my world for long stretches of the year. Twelve Kinds of Ice captures this winter world with all the anticipation and excitement that comes with it. It’s a near-perfect book, but one that wil...more
Oh my. There are few books that leave me with tears standing in my eyes at the end, especially books of a spare 64 pages. This one did.

I suppose I could leave my review at that, but here are some details for those who need more. This tightly written and beautifully illustrated small book looks at the twelve kinds of ice that happen in the course of a winter. It all starts with the first ice which is the thin ice on top of a bucket in the barn that breaks when you touch it. From there excitement...more
I love summer, but winter light and winter quiet feed my soul in a different way. If you’re that kind of person, too, you won’t want to miss this small, lovely book called TWELVE KINDS OF ICE, written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Barbara McClintock.

Don’t expect a novel; this is more the kind of story your grandmother told you over hot chocolate — a remembrance of wintry childhood memories that celebrate all that’s good and pure and wildly fun when it comes to being a kid. It starts wit...more
Jim Erekson
This was rare for me. I was so sucked into the nostalgia of this book, that I felt like I had to read some of the reviews on goodreads before writing my own. Usually I don't check in like that before writing, because I like to write based on my aesthetic response. The best thing I found by reading the reviews was the category term 'memoir'. But Lu Benke's use of the term 'mood book' also seems applicable--I was focused clearly on one topic, and the characters, events, and details around this top...more
Barb Middleton
Life with ice. Black ice can mean doing a 360 with the car at a stop sign screaming with your daughter as it becomes a whirly-bird. Regular ice can mean your feet being swept out from underneath you levitating your body so that it is parallel to the ground before squashing you like a bug on the cold, hard asphalt. January ice can mean tossing a bucket of water in the air and watching it freeze before it hits the ground. That was in 1996 when temperatures were almost -60 degrees fahrenheit. Febru...more
My husband just accepted a job in a place where the average winter temperature hovers under 20 degrees and is surrounded by snow-capped Rocky Mountains. Brrr. I have not been excited about the prospect of FREEEEEZING so ferociously. I'm just a warm-blooded, vegas-weather kind of girl.

But sitting with little L this morning and snuggling under blankies while reading 'Twelve Kinds of Ice', I would be lying to say that I wasn't a little excited about it. Ellen Obed wrote this book as a kind of ode t...more
I will admit that sometimes I am baffled by the universal acclaim given to some books. This is one of those books. I liked it. It is a very nice little book. It has a wonderful, nostalgic feel, and the pen-and-ink drawings really are a perfect companion. It would be great for sharing on cold winter nights in front of the fireplace. It feels Christmasy even though Christmas isn't mentioned. It's really, really nice.

But Newbery-worthy? Seriously? (Of course, this is the same committee that complet...more
I don't know what I might have rated this book if I hadn't heard several people say it was one of the best books of the year, a strong Newbery contender, etc; but now I can't separate it from that. A perfectly nice book, but I don't see anything very special about it, and in one spot (the thaw) the page breaks were very awkward. I rolled my eyes at the strict gender lines drawn between figure skaters and hockey players, as I imagine many kids would.

The book has a classic, old-fashioned feel that...more
Ellen Obed's lovely new book is a series of vignettes in ode to her family's winter traditions in rural Maine. The first ice appears in pail left in a barn. It then spreads to the fields and streams, enticing the children to put on their skates. The real pleasure comes with the garden ice. In the coldest of winter, the narrator's family allows their summer garden to freeze over and become Bryan Gardens, an outdoor skating rink for the family and their friends. Each night their father sprays down...more
Beautifully expressive writing in its simplest form. When a book has this characteristic, I couldn't care less about its topic. Twelve Kinds of Ice transports you to a Maine farm where winter is the star of the seasons. I was surprised tight composure of this slight memoir. Guided into the approaching winter by the characteristics of different ice events, I expected the book to be a sweet reflection through and through. Not so. Well, yes so but it's more than that. Winter is fun and lively once...more
The book is supposed to be a quiet celebration of simple family traditions, and of course, of ice. I get that. However, knowing how rhapsodically the book has been received, I came away wanting more from it, especially more sense of individual character among the family and a little less leaning on the collective 'we'. Also, and this is a personal reaction, I was kind of ticked off that the girls were pigeon-holed into figure skating, and the boys played hockey. I spent some time ice-skating in...more
3.5 stars? I mean, I loved it - each chapter is a different kind of ice, taking you from fall to spring. It's a gorgeous look at winter and skating and dreaming. It's a very me book. But a top 100 book of the year, award possibility? Not really. I'm not even 100% sure this is a kids book, despite it being about kids. It's a memoir and I think will appeal mostly to adults. Maybe as a family holiday read aloud it would work very nicely, but I don't see many kids picking it up on their own. For tho...more
It's a nice book but it's clearly written for adults as it resembles more a nostalgic memoir than a children's book. It just couldn't get published as an adult book I guess. Honestly not sure what kids in my library will pick this book up on their own, without a parent telling them to. Ice is definitely a big thing in Minnesota in winter but this vignette style writing is not going to keep most children engaged. This is just an odd little story. I did like the illustrations though I did wonder w...more
This was my childhood! We never had the wonderful constructed rink the family had but we skated on the streams and the swampy part of the field next to my house and then on Blackbird Pond. Hockey fought with figure skating and it usually ended up in crack the whip ;-) With global warming and limited outdoor time, I don't know if kids get this experience today but Obed captures it exactly. Lovely lovely evocative writing that will give kids a taste of what winters used to be like.
A. Somers
Anyone who ever grew up in an area where you could count on ice covered lakes each winter will greatly appreciate this book. It made me feel nostalgic about the lake community where I grew up. We too had many different kinds of ice and Ms. Obed describes them all so vividly it makes me want to lace of my skates and join the kids on the lake. I especially loved black ice. It was rare, but oh so perfect for skating. Thank you for reminding me of my childhood.
Ellen Ramsey
A magical book filled with shimmering descriptions of ice sparkling in the sunlight and the moonlight. A splendid book to read out loud, especially on wintry days when ice sparkles outside and hot chocolate steams inside. My nephew and his kids have a wonderful "garden ice" skating rink in their backyard and enjoy it in many of the same ways as the kids in this book.
Sue Poduska
Written in a lyrical, almost poetic style, Obed’s memories evoke a longing for the simple hopes of a quieter age. Back in the days before the first question asked was not about what liability insurance a family has, families could still afford to be the centers for activities such as ice skating.
Miss Pippi the Librarian
"Twelve kinds of ice are carved into twenty vignettes, each exulting the beauty of ice and ice skating that comes year after year" - from audiobook back

Ellen Bryan Obed reflects and shares her childhood wonder of different kinds of ice. It begins with a thin layer that cracks when touched and end with dreams of ice. It's a short and endearing book that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Obed shares her childhood Winter experiences that today's audience can enjoy and associated with their own Wi...more
Beautiful, quiet, lyrical. Made me wish I lived somewhere cold.
A charming look at a childhood in the country, long ago. Children watch for ice to form in the winter, and the different kinds of ice they find, until the great moment when they are able to make their own skating rink in their garden. It sounds idyllic! A sweet book with wonderful black and white illustrations by Barbara McClintock who is one of my favorite illustrators. I think this will appeal to the kind of child who likes the Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall, and Elizabeth Enright's Gone...more
Carol Royce Owen
As I read this book I kept wondering where the author grew up (Maine), because I can remember living in Connecticut and waiting for that time in the winter (usually just after Christmas) when Washington Park pond would finally freeze over and we were allowed to skate on it. For weeks before that we'd walk down, skates over our shoulders, only to be discouraged by the no skating sign, or we'd call the rec center information line and hear the recording, "There is NO skating on Washington Park toda...more
Rachael Stein
Ah, the elusive Twelve Kinds of Ice. Betsy Bird stepped out of her time machine and started talking it up way back in spring, and then reviewed it in July. The rest of us have been hoping for a glimpse ever since, but ARCs were scarce as hen's teeth, so this reviewer had to wait until she could ILL it from a neighboring library last month.

(Yes, last month. I apologize for the radio silence, but every germ north of the equator descended upon my immune system a couple of weeks ago. It's been like...more
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.

How lovely! Ellen Obed's set of vignettes about her family's winter experiences in rural Maine strikes a sense of nostalgia perhaps not quite owned by all readers. I didn't have this childhood, not exactly. I didn't grow up on a farm, and I couldn't skate. I also am quite a bit younger than the author. But, there is a timeless quality about enjoying the seasons as a family. You learn so much about Obed's life and the joy of childhood from the...more
Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrated by Barbara McClintock is a nostalgic story of the wonder of winter for children and the many varieties of ice to be encountered and enjoyed.

McClintock's illustrations were created with pen and ink on Arches Cold Press watercolor paper. Fine details and cross-hatching build to a final two page illustration of dream ice. Only the cover features color. My favorite images are cover, second ice, stream ice, black ice, broom partner, late night ska...more
This little gem of a book takes me back to my childhood in Alaska - when every school had two rinks (one for hockey games and one for skating). Every recess, we would hurry to put on our skates in the hallway on long black, rubber mats - being sure to secure our skate guards. The excitement for skating and being outdoors that this author and illustrator are able to create is magical. From the descriptions of the ice to the count of skating days, one gets a sense of wonder and innocent childhood....more
Newbury Town Library Youth Services
Several winters ago, when my family and I still lived in Boston, our neighbor two doors down made a backyard ice rink. As a young family with a two year-old and a three year-old, we bought used skates, and skated away the short afternoons there. It was like heaven. Some days the rink was our alone. Other days, lots of neighborhood families would be there. Our neighbors also raised chickens and rabbits, which would come to inspect us. The scene could be surreal if you caught us all at the right t...more
Twelve Kinds of Ice is a series of beautiful vignettes describing ice and all of its wonder. It begis with the simplest ice, The First Ice. As the reader moves through each vignette, the author brings to life an amazing winter world where ice skating tops every favorites list.

There is a lot to like about this book.

First of all, the beautiful language. Each portion of the book, while simple, is poetic and lovely - entrancing almost.

Second, the setting. I felt that I was removed from the cold, br...more
Gail Gauthier
"I was drawn to this book because I'd read years ago that ice is some kind of recurring motif in Canadian literature. I don't know if that's actually the case, but I like the idea of an entire culture being so involved with its setting. Also, my son and I tried to build an ice rink in our backyard, also years ago. Central Connecticut is far south of Maine, where Twelve Kinds of Ice takes place, so we had that working against us to begin with. Then, after several days of effort, another family me...more
I don't have children of my own, but I know that often nostalgia drives parents to pick out certain books for their kids, usually titles that they enjoyed as a child. This makes sense, after all, most adults don't follow children's lit and aren't aware of what's good or even popular. But if you're looking for a different kind of nostalgia, the kind that evokes a feeling of timelessness, a classic simplicity, a sense of innocence, then check out Twelve Kinds of Ice, a charming little book by Elle...more
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