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Katy and the Big Snow: A Winter and Holiday Book for Kids

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Katy, a brave and untiring tractor, who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, makes it possible for the townspeople to do their jobs.
In 2009, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Virginia Lee Burton's birth. As part of this celebration a glitter-cover edition of Katy and the Big Snow, complete with snowy stickers, has been created. In this enduring winter favorite from the Caldecott Medal winner Burton, Katy the snowplow finally gets her chance to shine when a blizzard blankets the city and everyone is relying on Katy to help dig out. This new paperback is perfect for gift giving. Children love sharing Katy’s shining moment of glory and will inevitably admire her “chug, chug, chug” endurance.

40 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1943

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About the author

Virginia Lee Burton

37 books199 followers
Virginia Lee Burton was an American illustrator and children's book author. Burton produced seven self-illustrated children's books. She married Boston Museum school sculptor, George Demetrios, with whom she had two sons and lived in Folly Cove, Gloucester. She died at 59.

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5 stars
6,038 (49%)
4 stars
3,582 (29%)
3 stars
2,029 (16%)
2 stars
341 (2%)
1 star
107 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 254 reviews
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
557 reviews142 followers
May 20, 2019
Really exciting story about a snowplow digging out a town after a big snow storm. The drawings are cool and twist around to show the roads and everyone finally getting moving.
Profile Image for Calista.
4,077 reviews31.3k followers
January 22, 2019
It seemed the perfect time of year to read this. Katy is a big plow and she likes to work hard. She is a bight red machine and very proud of being so helpful. She has a plow on the front and they can put a snow plow on her too. Well, one day there is a wallop of a storm and it’s so deep that everyone is snowed in. No one can go anywhere.

So Katy gets out the snow plow and she plows everyone out. She saves the day slow and steady. The art uses red, green and yellow color with black and white. The story is told with a picture window in the middle of the page with bubbles around it of things happening or places in the town or just other information the story could use. It mostly shows Katy plowing streets.

The kids sorta enjoyed this and they wondered what the point of the story was. It’s pages of streets being plowed. I have loved Virginia’s other stories so far, but this one was not as wonderful as the other. It has a charm, but it’s a bit slow as a story. The children were on to the next story after this was read. It did not penetrate their conscious really. The niece gave this a star and the nephew gave this 2 stars.
Profile Image for Dale.
Author 29 books50 followers
December 13, 2016
The more time goes by, the more books I read to my kids, the more I appreciate Virginia Lee Burton. Katy the big red bulldozer is a strong female protagonist with no need for a love interest or even a male sidekick. She just keeps on chugging, helping people, doing the job when no one else can, never giving up even when she gets tired. Before becoming a parent I wouldn't have expected anthropomorphic highway department vehicles to be kickass role models, but here we are.
Profile Image for K8teebug.
193 reviews
March 5, 2008
One of the only things I've ever found with Katy spelled with a "y". Who cares if I'm a snow plow? I'm a snow plow who saves the day!
Profile Image for Annie ⚜️.
501 reviews16 followers
October 28, 2019
I was able to give my son the edition I received from my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Esposito in the 1970s. He enjoys the exquisitely detailed illustrations as much as I did.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
3,035 reviews36 followers
August 3, 2021
A childhood favorite about a snow plow that saves the day. It's the perfect first snow of the season/snowy day story!
Profile Image for Chak.
495 reviews5 followers
April 7, 2009
I think Virginia Lee Burton is wonderful. Long-winded, but wonderful. I like the ridiculous level of illustration detail in this book (the map of the town is really out-of-control detailed and the story of the humanized snow plow that just keeps going even though she's tired and she doesn't think she can do it. File this under "I think I can" books. Ages 4-7.
Profile Image for Relyn.
3,525 reviews58 followers
March 13, 2016
Oh, I am so glad to have reread this book. I hadn't read it in years and it was wonderful. The maps were wonderful and so engaging. The details would appeal to boys and girls. The story is simple and easily accessible. But, the best part about this book is the plans I have for it. I can't wait to use it to teach a few writing mini-lessons. Her use of word placement on the page and in conjunction with pictures will be a great example to my own little book-makers. Can't wait!
Profile Image for Susan.
753 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2017
Katy, a brave and untiring tractor, who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, makes it possible for the townspeople to do their jobs.

This story was used in my "snow" storytime and we pretended to push the snow in all the parts of town mentioned- north, south, east and west. East is toward the mountains, west is toward the lake and so on, so we chugged along in those directions. It is also great to showing how much snow fell- good math tie-ins.
Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,987 reviews122 followers
November 8, 2013
By the author of one of our favorite books, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel! Wanted to try another Burton and she didn't disappoint. My kids loved it. A little lesson about maps and directions with a compass rose and a map of the town. A great social studies lesson as well. All my kids loved this one.
Profile Image for Laura (Book Scrounger).
739 reviews49 followers
March 18, 2017
We really liked this book here (another new one for me -- clearly I was Virginia-Lee-Burton-deprived as a child!)-- it's certainly appropriate for a New England audience. I enjoyed the extra illustrations around the border too -- they're a nice extra for children to enjoy looking at even after the reading is done.
Profile Image for Mary Train.
108 reviews
January 19, 2010
I love this book...classic read aloud that still appeals to children in magical ways. It has the big snowstorm, big vehicles, a hero, a city map...what more could you ask for in kindergarten!
Profile Image for Jeremy.
51 reviews
March 21, 2011
This is a classic Kid's book. I wish I lived in the city of Geopolis.
Profile Image for Sarah.
317 reviews
June 25, 2013
Wonderful book for a grandmother to read with a two year old grandson who loves to snuggle.
Profile Image for Mya.
1,434 reviews54 followers
December 27, 2019
This was a cute story for kids about not giving up.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,222 reviews147 followers
October 18, 2015
What a gift Virginia Lee Burton was to the world. Her warm, sincere, hopeful style of writing, even as the characters in her stories come upon hard times and their eventual success is anything but guaranteed, is like nothing else I've ever read. Virginia Lee Burton's characters are long-suffering and gentle, enthusiastic and generous, and in Katy and the Big Snow, we are introduced to an unforgettably doughty protagonist willing to put everything she has on the line to help friends in need. If I were asked to come up with one perfect example of a bighearted picture book, Katy and the Big Snow might well be the one I would end up choosing.

Katy the tractor does quite a bit for the small, old-fashioned city of Geoppolis. A jack of all trades, Katy lends the help of her horsepower wherever and however it is needed. If a bulldozer is required, she can be that. Is a vehicle lost in the pond? Katy will work as a hauler car to help save the waterlogged automotive machinery. In the winter, Katy is even capable of being converted to a snow plow and clearing the roads, though her power is so impressive and such little snow typically falls in the city that there's usually not much for her to do in the winter.

All that changes, though, when an unprecedented ice and snow storm sweeps across Geoppolis. As the inches of sticky whiteness pile up ever higher, showing no sign of ceasing anytime soon, the people of Geoppolis begin to fear what might happen without access to the roads. The snow is so thick and coming down so rapidly that even the snow plows can't keep up with the heavy demand, and one by one the vehicles' engines quit as the strain on them grows too great.

On a wild, snowy night of chaos and confusion, including a few real emergencies that can't wait for the storm to abate before being addressed, Katy the snow plow emerges as the last vehicle standing that might still have a chance of braving the piled-up drifts to clear the roads for emergency personnel to use. As the urgent requests for assistance mount up and begin to take their toll on Katy, the steadfast snow plow refuses to turn her back on those for whom she is the last hope of rescue. The night wears on and Katy continues to plow road after road after road, an unswerving, unfailing hero in a world where heroes so often seem to stumble because they're only human, and no human can live up to the standard of perfection all of the time. It's all the sweeter, then, that for a brief moment in one bravely optimistic story, we can have that unfailing hero in Katy, who forges her name as a savior to all in Geoppolis by her selflessness and never-say-die attitude on a night when both are called upon more more desperately than ever before.

I really like this story. Virginia Lee Burton does things differently than other creators of picture books, and that's part of what allows her to stand out among them. I love the fact, for example, that one full two-page spread right in the middle of Katy and the Big Snow is devoted to a coded map of Geoppolis, complete with a numbered key chart so readers can find exactly where everything is located in the small city. I also love how Virginia Lee Burton is able to convincingly ascribe traits of inner strength and courage to a snow plow; it made me think about what that extraordinary vehicular power and perseverance would have looked like to one witnessing Katy's feat on the night it happened, her engines straining and pushing so hard, all at their absolute peak of condition. It also caused me to wonder, seventy years after this book was first published, where Katy might be all these decades later, and if she would still be remembered and treated with honor for what she did so long ago for the people of Geoppolis. I'd like to think it would be that way. Overall, I would give two and a half stars to Katy and the Big Snow, along with my fond recommendation.
22 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2017
Katy is a tractor. She pushes dirt on the summer and usually rests on the winter. The highway department takes off her blade and puts a plow on. Burton describes Katy as a red crawler tractor that “could do lots of things”. The winters are usually mild and Katy is not called upon until there is a Big Snow. The story is about how the town shuts down, people are trapped, people are sick and need to get to the hospital and a house is on fire! Katy is the only one that can navigate around town, pushing the snow off the roads. She helps everyone. She is tired but she gives more and continues on. She is a strong character mentally. She reminds me of the little engine that could.

Burton’s drawings are very detailed. Definately worth studying for foreshadowing the story. This would be a nice way to introduce or reinforce foreshadowing.

In math, it might be fun to have the students lay out/draw a city of their own after teaching coordinate graphing and distance formula. This could easily be tied into physics (distance = rate x time) and the students could calculate distance, rate or time depending on how you set up the project. Or you could lay out the city on the gym floor or parking lot and have the students Check to see if the distances between the highway department, school, hospital, burning house etc... are to scale, if you were teaching dilation in mathematics.

Profile Image for Tim Vandenberg.
369 reviews15 followers
November 27, 2014
Seventy-One Years Ago! [At the time of this writing.] I just cannot believe that this amazing picture book was created in 1943, over seven DECADES ago!

"Katy and the Big Snow" is an often overlooked precursor to the hyper-detailed pictures books of the 1980's, such as the "Where's Waldo" series and the "How Things Work" books, etc.

Virginia Lee Burton does an AMAZING job creating the little town of Geoppolis (which she admits is based on Glaucester, MA) with an exquisitely laid out city map, all of which actually comes into play for the rest of the story's plot! AND, within the action itself, the young reader can spend HOURS discovering new & exciting little details within the pictures, all of which actually go right along with the story's setting, plot, characters, etc.

In short, I was AMAZED by this delightful & decadent production by the LEGENDARY Virginia Lee Burton (The Little House, Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel, etc.)!

HIGHLY recommended for all those who love the greatest picture books of all time! (and anyone else who loves to read!)
Profile Image for superawesomekt.
1,415 reviews43 followers
October 18, 2017
Virginia Lee Burton is a favorite at our house. We received Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as a gift and later Katy and the Big Snow. Burton's writing is wonderful for young children—it has a great rhythm and energy to it that makes it timeless. Katy is especially delightful because "the tougher the job the better she liked it"—she is appealing to boys and girls alike. We also have enjoyed Choo Choo, Maybelle the Cable Car, and The Little House. But I think Katy and the Big Snow might be my favorite.
Profile Image for Jenn M.
187 reviews13 followers
August 23, 2013
Katy and the Big Snow is classic children's literature. I remember reading it at a child, and now my children have read it. In fact, my daughter's kindergarten read and studied it as part of the school's "Five-in-a-Row" curriculum, enjoying the book's story, as well as other elements (mechanical devices that help people do work, seasons, changes in condition due to aging).

These "classic" award-winning children's books and children's authors are always enjoyable to read...and read again, over and over. There is just something about the voice of the past, and different times, coming through the narrative. One gets the feeling of constancy and continuity...and a really good story.

Pick this one up and read it to your kids...or just read it again for yourself. (It's okay...no one is looking!)
Profile Image for Joel  Werley.
152 reviews8 followers
September 9, 2014
I'm avoiding putting children's books into my "Read books" (because anything that can be read in 10 minutes shouldn't count towards my grand total in my mind, as if anyone else is checking my stats...), despite the memories of those books being as essential as any literature I've read in my adult years.

However, I've decided that my 3 favorite picture books (excepting obvious classics like "Where the Wild Things Are" that don't need any further recommendations) from my tyke days are too worthy to not be recognized:
1. Andrew Henry's Meadow, by Doris Burn
2. Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton
3. McBroom's Zoo, by Sid Fleischman
Give them to your kids. Read 'em with them. Read it when they're not looking.

As a father-to-be, these fabulous picture books will soon be put back into heavy rotation. *commences digging through boxes in the family basement*

Profile Image for Sherri.
Author 1 book10 followers
January 23, 2019
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, A Little House, and now Katy and the Big Snow...I love Virginia Burton's books. They tug at something inside that makes me feel like a kid again and sometimes draw a tear. The illustrations never fail to enchant me.

Some pictures in this book have borders lined with a variety of Katy's jobs or the vehicles used by the Highway Department. These are especially nice for little ones that can't read yet. The town map is also a great way to interact with a child; the numbered close-ups in the border allow them to pick out where each building is located in town.

A picture book means what the name indicates. It should combine story and illustrations to make magic, and that's exactly what Virginia Burton does.
Profile Image for Judy.
3,184 reviews55 followers
February 26, 2016
Personifying machinery has always seemed odd to me. Tuggy the Tugboat was the first such story that I remember. I'm not even comfortable reading these to a child. A machine that thinks and has feelings is just weird. Of course, someday computerized machinery may take on emotions of their own, and I will have to rethink my stance.

That said ... Katy has admirable character traits, which I'd be happy for kids to emulate. And, I like any book with a pictorial map that kids can study.
52 reviews
July 19, 2012
This is a cute story that shows the value of perseverance and service to others. I particularly enjoy the map on pages 6 & 7 which labels all the points of interest in the city. This would be a good book to use during a lesson on reading and creating maps. Also, throughout the book a map compass is used to give the direction that Katy is plowing.
Profile Image for Cara Farmer.
146 reviews6 followers
January 28, 2013
I think this book is so sweet and I love how the author gave Katy life. She is a little snow plow that is so full of life. Its a great book for talking about construction (which is why we read it in class) but it is also great to talk about how rewarding hard work can be. It is great and I truly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Jessica.
470 reviews10 followers
August 29, 2013
Of the other books by Burton this one was merely "okay" -- I love the other ones in her collection better. There just seems to be something missing here. A lack of connection with the character. However, the work hard ethic of the snow plow was good. I'd probably only add this to our permanent collection just to round out the series but it is not on my must have list.
Profile Image for Christabelle.
366 reviews9 followers
January 10, 2017
How fun! I got two "I loved it!" replies when I asked how much they liked this one. I'm afraid I'm biased toward this author-- Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, another of her books, was a favorite growing up -- so I already was primed to enjoy it! But it pleased me to find another favorite and one my kids enjoy. What a fun wintertime read.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
130 reviews25 followers
November 4, 2010
Just okay for me, but my little boy loved reading about the snow plow (Katy) that saves the day. The best part is the illustrations, including a full map of the city where you can track Katy's route through the city as she helps out.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 254 reviews

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