Ice Storm, by Penny Draper (2011)

Genre: Contemporary Realism
Interest level: 10-13
Ice StormDespite a slightly rocky start, this novel based on the true story of the devastating Quebec ice storm of 1998 emerges as an excellent addition to the Disaster Strikes fiction series for children. Sophie and Alice are cousins. Both are 12, both live in Quebec. There the similarities end. Sophie is French-Canadian, a compact blonde who lives on a dairy farm; Alice is a tall brunette, an English-speaking Montrealer and a skating star who stumbles in competition. The novel progresses in alternate voice between the two, telling the story of how each girl faces the slowly developing disaster that enveloped millions of Canadians in ice that was up to 100 mms thick (about four inches), nearly destroying the electrical grid. Draper, a Vancouver Island author, draws on news reports and statistics to weave facts and verisimilitude into the story, and in an author’s note provides storm facts and resources for readers who want to know more. The Canadian-isms are a bit cloying at times, ranging from maple syrup and Alice’s struggles with English, to the CBC and the Montreal Canadiens. Draper’s writing has an odd cadence, I found. I kept sensing an effort to make it a children’s novel by shortening the sentences and simplifying the vocabulary, to the point I checked to see if it was high interest/low reading level intended for new readers in English. Not so. A little more sophistication in the writing would help – I kept “hearing” the voices in accented form, with no reason. Give this one a try, and stick with it. Ultimately it’s a good story and a worthy addition to the series.
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