Ice Cycle by Maria Gianferrari

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Ice Cycle by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jieting Chen (Millbrook Press, 2022) is subtitled “Poems about the Life of Ice,” and I must say that, just as I had never considered the variety of animals living near icebergs, I had never considered varieties of ice on which those animals live! Yes, as Gianferrari shows in her simple poems, ice is unique in every situation, and it changes form as does water itself.

Ice appears in a variety of formats, and the temperature and vapor impact how it will look. The first poem mentions this: “Shapes unfold/Temperature and vapor mold.”

Did you, dear reader, ever consider how ice can look like needles, snowflakes, pyramids, and more? If this is all frozen water, how come it looks so different? I live in Chicagoland, which tends to get a bunch of snow all winter, so I know: some snow is easier to shovel than others. Now, as I live among the snow, I’ll be considering all the ways that ice can form.

I’ve heard of icicles, but I didn’t know so many of these other terms: frazile, nilas, ice rind, shuga, hummock, bummock. The illustrations show us these types, and the end matter clarifies with definitions, even clarifying between freshwater ice and seawater ice. Who knew there was so much to learn about ice?

I love the personification of ice in these simple poems: “Frost ferns./ It swirls and curls.” Each kind of ice seems to have its own personality. In the poems, the ice seems alive, which is what I really enjoy most about the book: it truly is discussing a “cycle” of ice, a reminder that just as water moves in different forms, ice (a part of that water cycle) can also transform.

The couplet coming at the end of the book (second to the last page, at least) nicely captures this cycle for us:

Temperatures rise

Ice dies . . .

Temperatures dive

Ice comes alive

My favorite two-page spread is the poem called “Ice Speaks.” which emphasizes the “life” in ice. The picture shows a child in a warm-hooded coat at the edge of a pond. The majority of the picture shows the pond and golden supernatural-like sparkles coming from the ice to indicate the voice as “Ice sings and pings: Ring! Boing! Ding!

Overall Ice Cycle nicely captures the unique nature of ice in the water cycle, in our winter habitats, and around the world. It would work well for a winter unit, a water unit, a lesson about Antarctica, or especially an iceberg lesson. There is much more to ice than meets the eye.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration.

Reviewed on November 3, 2022

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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