Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs - Book Review

Even though we've received plenty of snow this winter, we still haven't had the chance to build a snowman. The cold weather and a few illnesses have put a wrench in our outdoor play. But there's plenty of winter left to build a snowman, so there's still hope. In the meantime, we'll have to remain content with reading about the white creations and imagining what would happen if one came to life.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs; Random House (November 1978); ISBN 9780394839738

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is quite possibly one of the most famous children's books to feature a snowman. A series of small frames on each page tell the tale in this wordless picture book about the adventures of a little boy and his snowman. The softly hued illustrations are action filled and my kids really enjoy narrating the sequence of events.

A little boy wakes up to a snowy morning and runs outside to build a snowman. Later that night, the snowman comes to life. The little boy invites the snowman inside and they explore the boy's home. They do many things together--they switch the lights off and on, eat ice, the snowman tries on some clothes, they skateboard around the house and they even eat a snack. The snowman returns the kindness by taking the boy back outdoors for a magical nighttime flying adventure. Morning arrives and the boy must say goodbye to his friend.

My toddler son enjoyed paging through this book...that is until the last page. He wasn't fond of the ending. However, it gave us the opportunity to discuss snowmen and talk about how they don't last forever. The sun is a powerful foe. We found a few things interesting in the book. The boy doesn't design a typical three-ball snowman. His snowman is made from two segments and has arms and carved legs. Also, there's a little geography in the book. The boy and snowman fly over the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England.

We own a lift-the-flap version of The Snowman and it ends happily. Perhaps that is why my little guy was shocked after finally reading the original version. He was expecting it to end like his board book version. In fact, several editions and versions of The Snowman exist and not all are wordless. The online reviews for all the books are combined together, making it difficult to determine what to expect if you purchase something other than the original. Here's our review of the Nifty Lift-and-Look Book Series version:


The Snowman (Nifty Lift-and-Look) Board Book by Raymond Briggs; Random House (October 1998); ISBN 9780679888963

In this board book adaption of The Snowman, the text informs readers that the little boy is named James. The book includes over 35 flaps with instructional text. It's not wordless like the original and is missing the small frames as each page spread is a large picture. On the first pages, the reader can lift the flaps to help James build the snowman by locating coal, a scarf, hat and a tangerine. The following pages include toddler friendly tasks such as counting objects, helping the snowman find James in a hide-and-seek game, and naming the colors of foods in the kitchen. In the last pages, James and the snowman magically fly over a group of homes. There's also a barn with a silo and a tree house. The flaps conceal people and animals inside the buildings.

Even though the story differs greatly from the original, this book is a good one for toddlers. My daughter loved it when she was little, and it's one of my toddler son's current favorite reads. My son likes to pretend he doesn't know where James is hiding in the hide-and-seek pages. I like that the book teaches colors and counting in an amusing way.




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What My Child is Reading Blog Hop hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

15 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I just love Raymond Briggs. And I love the fact that so many of his books are for adults on a different level.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I hate it when we get snow, but it's too cold for snowmen (which seems to be a good fraction of the winter)! Lovely review! And it makes me think of those irreverent Calvin and Hobbes snowman cartoons! I wonder if this was their inspiration?

Julie P. said...

We only have the wordless edition. I wasn't even aware that there were others.

Colleen said...

LOL, I was scrolling through my blogroll with Paxton at my side and he says "HEY! We have that book at my Westview school!" =) He gives it 2 thumbs up!

Laura Fabiani said...

We have the wordless movie version which both my kids loved partly because of the images and the other because of the music that in many ways spoke to us.

Shelly B said...

I love The Snowman! I always read it to my class during our winter study in January.

Katie said...

I have always loved this book because it's wordless. I'm not sure I'd like it as much with words. The movie version, especially, really gets to me.

beth said...

We had some visitors from Australia during our surprise snowstorm over Thanksgiving, and they got to build a snowman, complete with carrot nose, button eyes (well, we used bouncy balls), scarf, and shield & chest armor. It seems they had been reading about snowman all along.

Belle @ LearnPlayFun said...

We have the movie version - I really should get a copy of one of the versions of the book.

Candace @Naturally Educational said...

Love it! I don't think I've ever read the book but I remember the movie version. I'll have to get this book for my kids. We built a snowman during the last storm and hope to make one again later this week!

Raising a Happy Child said...

Interestingly, the version that we read was not wordless (at least I believe so), but it ended the same way as a classic story. It's a wonderful book. Thanks for joining WMCIR!

Anne@LittleSproutBooks said...

I love the wordless version, but my son was disappointed by the end as well - didn't realize there were so many other options. We may have to try to get our hands on the flap version! Thanks for all the info, and for linking up at Feed Me Books Friday!

Camille said...

In keeping with the Huck Finn controversy: The Snowman (Nifty Lift-and-Look) Board Book - The expurgated version.