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Twelve Kinds of Ice
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Twelve Kinds of Ice

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,346 Ratings  ·  282 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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Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Ice is one of the first visible indications of the winter season; it often steals into our world on a chilly night, staying for as long as Mother Nature will allow, and then it steals away again in the bright sunshine of day.

Twelve Kinds of Ice takes the reader though the winter season as seen through one of the markers of the season – ice. Starting with that fragile, thin glaze of ice on the water’s surface, we go though the cold, colder, coldest days of winter until we progress to a stronger,
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
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
Jim Erekson
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Fitzgerald
The text in this book is so lyrical and lovely in its nostalgic descriptions of a family's backyard ice rink in Maine. Each very short chapter describes a segment of the winter season, taking the reader on a journey from the earliest ice of the year, through a thaw, and on to the last skate of the season. I read the book aloud, and I think that made me appreciate the language even more as I was able to slow down and really enjoy the words. The line drawings by Barbara McClintock match the mood o ...more
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This pleasant little book about a family who likes to create their own ice rink in winter and skate left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside despite the cold subject. Barbara McClintock's homey illustrations enhanced the magical atmosphere of the story. The "twelve kinds of ice" were really the stages of winter as exemplified by what ice is like at various times during the winter. It certainly made me want to take a closer look at ice! Recommended for a cosy read any time of the year.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reads like the classic books I grew up with: Cricket in Times Square, Miss Bianca, Rabbit Hill, but more poetic. A lovely story about a family who gathers and lives around ice in Maine. Will baffle the kids of today about how families used to entertain themselves. Highly recommend for young readers and parents who love to read out loud to their kids.
Mary Ellen
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don’t love ice. I detest the cold. This book was so beautifully written that it took me beyond my total annoyance with ice and transported me to a place where I could imagine that winter was magic. It was beautifully written and illustrated.
A masterpiece for sure.
Barb Middleton
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jf-general
For someone who has spent most of her life in the ice-free South, this was like a trip to an exotic country; a country in which there is ice all winter long. This book is classified as fiction in my library, but it is more like a fond memoir of a childhood spent skating on ice almost every day of the winter. Short, but sweet, poetic, and informative; with lovely ink drawings by Barbara McClintock.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
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
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a delightful little book--and I do mean little. It is smaller in dimensional size than the typical children's fiction books, and the writing is lovely, as are the black and white illustrations. I almost wish it had been published as a picture book, although there is a little too much text for that, and I wouldn't want to cut any of it out. I don't quite know how to categorize this unexpected gem. Maybe I like this book because it reminds me of my childhood, or because it brought back memori ...more
Ms. Yingling
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well, I can't possibly review this as well as Betsy Bird at School Library Journal. ( is a beautiful little book about winter with wonderful illustrations by Barbara McClintock that remind me of Joe and Beth Krush, my all time favorites. It talks about the stages that winter takes, in the form of the ice that appears and how the children wait eagerly for skating. Having grown up in the 70s when there were some long, cold winters and lots of ice skating, I ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
A. Somers
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: student-books
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
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lily, Bailey, Robin, Roy
Lovely memories of skating, from the first ice that marks the beginning of skating season, to the final skating session around puddles as the rink melts. Even made me think skating might be more fun than previously believed - and I am a non-skater and basically non-snow person.
Sue Poduska
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really sweet book with such wonderful memories of childhood. My kids loved it. This is a bit of a cheat to include this in my books read but I have already read it twice with my kids, and I only logged it once.
Katie W
This is a well-told story with beautiful illustrations that displays a love for ice, for the outdoors, for skating, for hockey, for family, for friends, for good times together, for experiences, for memories, for dreams, for whole-hearted living.
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
This is a charming little book, a reminiscence of a childhood in the cold. Especially fascinating for children raised in Alabama.
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