Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Snowshoe Thompson

Snowshoe Thompson

Nancy Smiler Levinson
Illustrator:  Joan Sandin 
Historical Fiction
For ages 5 to 7
HarperCollins, 1995   ISBN: 978-0064442060

Danny's father is far away in distant Nevada where he is digging for gold. It is only a few weeks before Christmas, and Danny is at the post office in Placerville, California, hoping to be able to send a last letter out to his father before winter really sets in. In his letter Danny asks his father to come home for Christmas, telling him "I don't care if you strike it rich." All he wants is for his father to come home. Unfortunately, winter has arrived early this year and the snow is too deep for the mail to go out. Danny's letter will have to wait until the spring.

Then a man steps forward. His name is John Thomson and he says he knows how he can get over the high and dangerous Sierra Nevada Mountains even when they are covered in snow. The next day he shows Danny how a log can be turned into a pair of skis. He explains how people from Norway use such skis to get across mountains all the time. Together Danny and John work on making the skis, and when they are finished everyone comes to see John put on the skis and fly down the hillside. They all think he is crazy to try to cross the Sierra Nevadas using such things strapped to his feet, but John sets out all the same to deliver Danny's letter.

Based on the true story of a Scandinavian immigrant who moved to Placerville, California, this wonderful story is both entertaining and interesting. Children will be especially intrigued to learn how skis were made 'in the old days.' An author's note at the back of the book provides further information about the real John Thompson, who not only delivered mail during the wintertime, but who also rescued snowbound travelers as well.