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PUBLISHED: 1:32 PM on Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Bundle up for 'Recess at 20 Below'

There is a time in everyone's life when snow - the actual thing or the mere idea of it - is 100 percent fun.

That, of course, is before snowfall means shoveling or plowing it; driving or walking in heels through it; digging the mailbox, front steps, or car out from it; and other grown-up grumps about the white stuff.

But getting back to that first thought - kids love snow. They love the potential fun of it, and they love the exhilaration of a frosty lungful of fresh winter air. Even kids who don't have snow in front of their houses, get excited about it.

Got snow? Whether there's snow outside your window this winter, or whether there isn't, you can capture some of that wintertime fun by gathering your kids and reading "Recess at 20 Below" by Cindy Lou Aillaud.

Sure, when you live in Alaska, it can get really, really cold outside. That's no reason not to go out for recess, even though your hair and eyelashes can get frosty when you're playing outside.

First thing to remember about snow is that you need to bundle up in a big way. You'll have to wiggle into snow pants and put on a hat that might cover almost your whole face. Clunky boots that make you sound like an elephant will keep your feet warm. Mittens go on last, and after all this bundling, you'd better hope you don't have to go to the bathroom.

Even the playground equipment changes when it snows. The swings might just disappear beneath the pile of snow that's scraped from the school's parking lot. Slides look all glittery like a glacier. The good news is, there are sleds and toboggans and a big mountain of snow to play on when you go to school in Alaska.

Here's another great thing about winter: when it's freezy, you'll find big chunks of snow all over the playground, and you can make snowforts. Really cold snow won't make good snowballs, but you can still throw handfuls of it up in the air to make a swirly fog. Oh, and always remember to keep your tongue away from anything metal when you're outside and it's cold. The consequences can be quite embarrassing.

Sometimes, I think adults can become jaded about the weather, especially when it comes to winter.

"Recess at 20 Below" is a good antidote to that.

It's impossible not to want to find a big snow drift and go sledding when you read this book. The pictures of children enjoying the snow are really cute, the story is quick for reading aloud, and the words are easy to understand, even for the littlest kids.

Author Cindy Lou Aillaud is a teacher in Alaska, and she knows that a little bit of weather is no reason to cancel fun outside.

If you or your kids are dreaming of a white Christmas this year, this book is a good start. "Recess at 20 Below" is absolutely BRRRimming with snowy winter fun.


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