The magical shape shifting of the snowman

Read a review of The Snowman and the Sun from IBBYlink;

 

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The Snowman and the Sun

By Susan Taghdis, illus. Ali Mafakheri, trans. Azita Rassi, London: Tiny Owl Publishing, hb. 9 781 9103 2810 1, 2015, £7.99, 24pp. [Suggested age range 3–7.]

Snowmen, standing in the sun, by their very nature, melt away. In this delightful picture book, Iranian writer Susan Taghdis tells us a gentle story of a little boy and his snowman, how they separate and meet again.

This is a book set in the outdoors, with a cool duck-egg colour palette complimenting and highlighting the minimalist figures on the page. Be it the snowman with his bright carrot nose, the boy with his colourful jumper and trousers, or the mysterious small red fish and the bike-riding bee that appear on every page, the effect is that of happy bursts of colour against a serene, expansive outdoors where a child, his cat and the snowman spend hours playing. The book starts with the yellow sun shining down on the snowman while the cat frolics around him. Gradually the snowman begins to melt, but not before he wonders what he is going to ‘be’ next. Every double spread that shows the snowman’s transformation is preceded by prose saying what he is going to turn into next. For instance, the text explains he is melting, and, next, he will evaporate, and then the snowman wishes he could fly, which he does on the next page – as water droplets that form into a floating cloud. Eventually the erstwhile snowman reaches high up into the sky, the air turns colder and eventually, ‘little by little, he turned back into snow and floated back down to the ground, flake by flake’.

The Snowman and the Sun

The Snowman and the Sun

For the adult reading to a child, there is a calm sense of a journey, the end which they can predict. For the child, there is the wonder of the snowman being able to change oneself, of being able to move from one form to another, of magical shape shifting. There is also the comfort of knowing that even though the boy misses the snowman when he has melted away, he hasn’t lost him forever. Snow falls and lies in drifts and

soon the boy makes him into a snowman again: friends reunited, till the sun melts him again and the cycle starts anew.

The prose is soothing and simple and just enough to introduce and balance the images, while not over explaining them. On a practical level, the book could easily be used as an introduction to science topics like evaporation and condensation, explaining the formation of snow to slightly older children. Metaphorically, it is about friendships and relationships, and how change and the thrill of new experiences can coexist with a sense of security, continuity and comfort.

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More to read about The Snowman and the Sun:

  • The Snowman and the Sun as reviewed by Jill Bennett- Link
  • The Snowman and the Sun as reviewed by Parents in Touch- Link
  • “A simple story with profound depth”- Armadillo- Link
  • Details make a huge difference in the story- A blog post- Link
  • magical illustrations of tiny Owl Books- A feedback from our readers- Link
  • “Tiny Owl is a brilliant new publisher to watch out for”- Dolphin Booksellers- Link
  • A wonderful event- A report- Link
  • A life lesson through a story- A blog post- Link
  • A piece by the Guardian family reviewers, Link.
  • The Snowman’s chattiness is beautifully complemented by the illustrations. Link
  • A review by Let Them Be Small blog. Link
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