You can always rely on the brilliant Sophie Anderson to bring something utterly magical to the shelves, and her new middle-grade novel, The Snow Girl, has the same fairytale-esque qualities I have come to love about her storytelling.
Set against the backdrop of a winter wonderland filled with forest creatures, Tasha and her parents have moved to Grandpa’s valley in the north, to help him on the farm over the harsh winter months. Tasha is happy to be nestled in this remote place, safe in the bosom of her loving family. But herein lies the problem.
Traumatised by a past event, Tasha has allowed her world to shrink around her, suffocating the sense of fun and adventure she used to enjoy.
Grandpa and her parents try to coax her back out into the world, but Tasha prefers looking after the small goat herd to making friends with the two children who live nearby.
But all that changes when Tasha builds a magnificent snow girl, just like the one in her and Grandpa’s favourite story, and wishes her to life. The pair become the best of friends and embark on nightly adventures together, exploring the wonders of the winter forest and the magnificent ice caves hidden in the mountains.
The Snow Girl, however, becomes Tasha’s crutch, one she is reluctant to let go of, especially when Grandpa’s story ends with the snow girl vanishing when the first snowdrops appear.
But holding on to the Snow Girl and delaying the onset of a hopeful Spring is causing untold problems in the valley. The animals of the forest are suffering, Grandpa’s already frail health is worsening, and supplies are running low.
When a terrible snowstorm envelops the valley, Tasha has to look deep within herself to confront the fears of her past. Can she reach out to those around her, even if it means losing her best friend in the whole world?
I particularly enjoyed the quietness of Tasha’s character in this story, and her inner struggle. Tasha is surrounded by the warmth and love of her family, and her community is friendly and supportive, but her real battle is with herself and her own fears. It illustrates how we can be just as destructive any external antagonist.
Stunningly illustrated by Melissa Castrillón, this immersive story, inspired by the traditional Russian tale of The Snow Maiden, will warm your heart!