This is a work of fiction. I invented the two human characters Robin, who is ready for snow, and his mom. But the animals, the mouse,
the snowshoe hare, and the three-legged fox are all real animals in my woods. And they are waiting, and preparing, for snow, too.There
are a lot of fox in my woods, mostly gray fox. Usually I only see their tracks. But this fox was different. I first saw her in a snowstorm
eating bird seed that had fallen from the feeder in front of my house. Then she curled up on the snow and went to sleep. Fox will
eat anything, but bird seed is not a very substantial diet for a fox. I knew she would probably starve that winter if I didn't help,
so I began to throw a handful of dog food (fox are of the dog family) on the snow each night, and the fox would come around to have
a meal. You could hear the kibbles crunch between her sharp teeth.
I never tried to make a pet of her, but she came so regularly that
I invited my friends over to watch. We would usually be eating dinner, when she would steal out of the woods, silent as a ghost on
the snow. Sometimes other foxes would come too.
Here are some sketches I did for the book. This is Robin looking disgusted that it hasn't snowed.
A small spruce by my house was the model for the first snow. At Christmas we put real candles on this tree and sing carols around
This snowplow truck appears in the opening illustration. I like to have pictures of the things I am drawing in front of me. I don't
copy them exactly, but they do help. Even though this is a work of fiction, I want to have all the pictures look as real as I can
When Will It Snow? is set in Porter Corners, NY, where I live "up on the mountain". The opening scene is of the heart of this tiny
village, slightly rearranged to fit on the pages. This is how the book starts:
"The north country was waiting for winter to begin. The cold wind had returned, and for days now thick clouds filled the sky. The
clouds moved slowly over the great forests, but so far, not a single snowflake had fallen. Even high on the hills the ground was still
bare. Winter was late, and as another gray morning began, people wondered, when will it snow?"
"...a sweet, embracing book little ones will understand."The New York Times Book Review, November 12, 1995
In some ways I am just like Robin. When November comes, I am watching for snow, hoping for a real storm.
Children often ask me what
happened to the three-legged fox. In truth, I don't know. I continued to feed it through the winter, and it seemed healthy and fit.
When spring came, and I put out dog food, and I found five raccoons in my yard enjoying this feast. Raccoons, cute as they can be,
are nothing but trouble, if they sense humans are a source of food. So I stopped my feeding program, and I never saw the fox again.