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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