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Andares, Fred and Ann Agranoff.

Toronto, Cross River Press, c1983. 132pp, paper, ISBN 0-7715-9857-2 (paperbound boards) $39.95, 0-7715-9858-0 (paper) $22.95. Distributed by Macmillan. CIP

Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by Robin Lewis

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

St. Petersburg, Montreal, and Leadville, Colorado have in common their severe winters and their ice palaces. Andares and Agranoff briefly mention utilitarian Innuit igloos and modern military structures. But their main interest is in the fantastical centrepieces of northern winter carnivals.

For centuries, these imaginative structures have been designed by renowned architects like the Canadian, A.C. Hutchison. Well they might be; those shimmering translucent walls were up to fourteen stories high. Even a partial collapse would have sent four hundred pound blocks of pale blue ice crashing down on the festive crowd below. The book describes construction techniques, although (thankfully) not in enough detail to encourage amateur builders.

The accounts of ice palaces are arranged chronologically, as well as by city. Each chapter begins with a useful historical sketch. The authors are concerned with the social backdrop to ice sculpture; the cruelty of Empress Anna in the 1740s, or the commercialism of Americans in the 1930s. Glorious pageants of fireworks and the "Storming of the Ice Palace" are vividly recalled.

The clear text is set off attractively by architectural drawings, contemporary sketches, and many full colour photographs (one of which is printed backwards, if that matters). Concise, unobtrusive notes, a bibliography, and an index are included. This is a pleasant, intriguing, and unusual book, but it would be difficult to predict its readership.

There may have been more ice palaces than the authors suspect. This review is being written overlooking McGill's Red-path Museum (designed by Hutchison). Is that an ice palace over there, aglow with coloured lights-the focus of a student carnival? Is it a memory, or just imagination? If it is a mere flight of fancy on a dreary winter's night, then it is in the best tradition of ice palaces. For that, assuredly, is how many of them were begun.

Robin Lewis, Riverdale H.S., Pierrefonds, Que.
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