Written and Illustrated by Preston McDaniels
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007
There was once a boy who lived in a very large house with very high walls all around it.
The plot in a nutshell: A snowman learns to share
The boy wakes to find the ground covered with snow and runs out to make the perfect snowman, using the finest carrot, perfectly round coal lumps and his father’s hat, scarf and umbrella. He builds the snowman and completes it with two sticks for arms. Everyone stops to comment on how wonderful the snowman is and the snowman listens to them and believes. That night, the boy goes in for supper and the snowman is left alone, except for an old rabbit and her children. The rabbit asks him if he would share the carrot and at first he refuses. She points out that her children are hungry and he gives them the carrot. In this same fashion, he gives his hat and scarf to a cold and thin cat. A shivering girl asks him for some of his coal to keep her warm and he gives her all his coal and his umbrella. A few days later, the sun comes out and melts him, then takes the puddle into the sky, where the snowman awakes to find the little girl waiting for him, and they stay there together forever.
This is the first book written by author/illustrator Preston McDaniels, although he’s illustrated several books by other others, including the Lighthouse Family series by Cynthia Rylant. I wasn’t a fan of the plot, which seemed disorganized, a little derivative and too heavy-handed. But I did like the illustrations, which were done in blended graphite in monochromatic sepia tones. I particularly like the snowman’s facial expressions, which go from haughty to genuinely joyful when he gives the rest of his things away to the little girl/angel. The pictures show his transformation in a way that’s more satisfying to me than the story’s ending, with the snowman and little girl reunited in heaven.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s more important to help those around you than to make yourself more perfect and important.