Cover image for Avalanche
Rosen, Michael J., 1954-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
A rhyming alphabet book in which a boy tosses a snowball to his dog and starts an avalanche that engulfs the entire universe until it has to reverse itself and become a snowball again, ending up in the dog's mouth.
Reading Level:
AD 750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 64423.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.5 1 Quiz: 16583 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books

On Order



A riot of color and motion, Avalanche features a boy, a dog, and a maniac snowball on the move. Rolled inside Rosen's whimsical avalanche of words is an astonishing ABC and a zany plot that disrupts the entire cosmos. Or does it? Full-color illustrations.

Author Notes

Michael J. Rosen was born on Septembr 20, 1954 in Ohio. After getting his MFA in poetry, Rosen started work as a design consultant for the Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts in 1982. In 1983, he became the literary director of the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. During his near-twenty-year stay as literary director, Rosen was the editor for several compilations of James Thurber's writings; he also was involved in the creation of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. Rosen has also "taught in the Ohio Art Council Poetry-in-the-Schools Program and Greater Columbus Arts Council Artist-in-the-Schools Program, and has conducted over 500 young authors' conferences, in-service days, writing workshops, guest author days, and residencies (for elementary, middle school, and high school students and teachers). He has acted as editor for Mirth of a Nation and 101 Damnations: The Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells, and his poetry has been featured in The Best American Poetry 1995.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rosen rolls through the alphabet and a gargantuan snowball rolls over the earth in this wintry fantasy. Each spread highlights several letters of the alphabet within key words: "Once there was an Avalanche/ that started out quite small./ It all began when Bobby tossed/ a harmless-looking ball." The snowball grows to Goliath proportions as it engulfs a garbage truck, a jet, mountains and the entire world. Ultimately the icy sphere encompasses the Universe and, in a concluding sci-fi twist, reverses its course to deposit every planet, city and house back in its proper place. Rosen, whose book is more about a rolling ball than a downhill snow-slide, tailors his word choice to accommodate the alphabetical scheme. Consequently, the sentences feel stilted: when the orb returns from outer space, "Zippy, Bobby's dog, he caught it!/ Gadzooks! What a throw!" In his first picture-book effort, Butler applies hand-painted details to cut-up photos of snow, sky and knit cloth. His early images present a convincing cluster of flying flakes, studded with pine trees and fences. But when he tries to imply infinite time and space, all embedded in ice, the result is a pedestrian picture of clocks and question marks. This snowball gets too big for its makers to handle. Ages 5-8. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-In this alphabet story, Rosen imagines the fantastical journey of a snowball after it leaves the hands of a young boy: "Once there was an Avalanche/that started out quite small./It all began when Bobby tossed/a harmless-looking ball...." From a simple chunk of snow to major avalanche, the white orb gains momentum as it hurls through the countryside picking up a doghouse, a garbage truck, a jet, a lake, and even whole nations along the way. It spins up into the air, out into space, and then back again-only to be caught on the last page by Bobby's dog Zippy. One or two words in each verse are capitalized to carry the alphabet concept forward. And there lies the problem; often the author's stretch to make the gimmick work-"The snowball flew through outer space,/where Questions all retreat" and "The Stars within the zodiac/lit on the snowball's brow"-interrupts the scan or muddles the meaning. While Butler's collage illustrations imaginatively display the snowball's journey, it will take an astute reader to make all the connections with the text. Purchase where there is a demand for alphabet books for older readers.-Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.