PUBLISHED: 7:33 PM on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Book shows 'how to' in winter survival
Winter is coming, and with it, all that white stuff on the ground.

So let's say school has called a Snow Day and you decided to take time off to play with the kids. Or maybe you've spent the day exploring outdoors, a freak storm whirls in and you need to stay put before you get discombobulated.

What do you do?

Prepare ahead of time by reading "How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters" by Norbert E. Yankielun, PhD, illustrated by Amelia Bauer.

You probably already know that there are several different kinds of snow and that snow makes an excellent insulator, both for humans and for the plants and animals that live beneath it all winter. So put that snow to work for you. Bundle up in layers, grab some shovels and tools, and decide what kind of shelter you can make with the white stuff you have around you.

Building an igloo - also called an aputiak - might seem easy. It's just a mound of snow blocks, right? Not, so Yankielun says. To build a real igloo, you have to have a basic idea of physics and you have to be able to build blocks in two different forms. Just building square bricks of snow and piling them in a dome is a recipe for disaster and collapse. Strongly-built igloos, on the other hand, are so sturdy that polar bears have been known to climb on top of them to look around.

But let's say you don't have the time it takes to build an igloo. You're out in the wild, a storm is coming, and finding shelter is a matter of survival or not. If you can find snow, you can find shelter, according to Yankielun. There are several different ways to make a place to wait out the storm. Depending on the kind of snow that surrounds you, you can make a slab shelter or a drift cave, you can take advantage of spruces or trees, or you can quickly put together a snow tent. Even kids know can make a quinzee.

Which brings us to the most important words in this book. In the beginning of "How to Build an Igloo", author Norbert E. Yankielun reminds readers that hazards exist when building any kind of snow shelter and that young children should have constant supervision to avoid disaster. All of the shelters in this book are very build-able but, if improperly constructed, could collapse.

Keeping that in mind, this book is unique and fun; simple to understand (thanks to line drawings by Amelia Bauer) and is easy to tuck in a backpack. My only complaint is that the cover is mostly white (easy to lose in snow) and the pages aren't waterproofed.

If you've got an outdoor enthusiast, group leader, older Boy or Girl Scout, or snow-bound parent on your gift list this year, this fun book will be welcome and could save a life. Pick up a copy of "How to Build an Igloo" and let it snow!