Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review: Heart of a Snowman

Heart of a Snowman (Hardcover), by Mary Kuryla and Eugene Yelchin. Heart of a Snowman is quite a unique book. The illustrations are gorgeous. The story line is part Frosty the Snowman, Part alien abduction, and part Santa's north pole. Owen builds a snowman every Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, it melts. He is so worried about his snowman melting that he doesn't even notice Santa visiting. As he stares out the window at his snowman, he sees it being abducted by (ready for it?) a giant vessel, shaped like a snowman. Owen runs out and is sucked into the vessel too. He finds himself ejected from the vessel into a vast factory. He's perplexed by what he sees - snowmen being disassembled right down to their very snowflakes. Destruction isn't the goal however; Owen slowly realizes that the workers are on a mission to build the "perfect snowman," and Owen has been brought to the factory to "roll the perfect snowball at the heart of all our snowmen." Despite the factory's elaborate efforts, the snowman still begins to melt. See the excerpt below for the rationale on that. A bit wacky? For sure. But maybe no more so than flying reindeer, snowmen that come to life, and a heavyset man who slides down chimneys.


"'When a boy makes a snowman, he gives it a heart,' said the puffin. 'It gets so warm inside, the snowman can't last.' The animals looked at each other. All at once they knew the factory would close, because the only place a snowman would last forever was in a boy's heart."

Bookworm's interest at 24 months: The text was a little long for him. We just looked at some of the illustrations. And for some reason he loves running his hand over the cover title and shouting, "bumpy bumpy letters!" Recommended ages according to book jacket: 4-8.

Parent's Peeve: I really loved the illustrations. The story was a little on the sappy side for me. The excerpt above is about as sentimental as it gets, so if you don't mind that, then you should love the book. In any case, it is worth taking a look at if your child is within the recommended age range. With no offense to the authors' text, I would recommend it for the illustrations alone.

Companion activities:

Of course, you could build a snowman!

Or, if you're cold and lazy like me: We tried this snowman idea that I read about on mamatrue: parenting as practice - I thought he would love playing with cotton balls. *insert buzzer* He stuck two cotton balls down, got glue on his fingers, and declared he was all done. He rejected all efforts to continue, or to decorate the snowman once I went ahead and glued all of the cotton balls down myself. BUT, he did enjoy playing with cotton balls in an open ended sort of art activity the next day, so all was not lost.

Do you have any favorite books featuring snowmen? Any crafts you'd like to share? Have you made a snowman yet this year? My husband attempted it with our little guy today, and they got as far as moving some snow around. I need to buy the bibliophile some boots that aren't three sizes too big so he can actually play in the snow.


maryanne said...

I've tried to do cottonball crafts with my kids several times, with little success. Emma likes having a single cottonball on her crafts, but if I try to put on more she pulls them off. Johnny just wants to play with them, and doesn't see the point in gluing them down. Maybe it's something they grow into?

Raising a Happy Child said...

We don't get snow - not even a drop. So - no real snowmen. I am saving all snowmen and snowflakes stories and crafts until after Christmas. Maybe we will go to the Sierras to show our daughter snow for the first time, and then we will do some crafts. I saw a cute project somewhere (I think on NTFF) that involved having several stackable spice jars filled with cotton balls for a snowman body.

Britt said...

I keep trying to explain to Boo that if she can still see the grass, there's not enough snow to play in. She's unconvinced.

That story sounds... bizarre. And slightly too sappy. :D

I haven't tried cottonball snowmen yet. I wonder if we even have any cottonballs.... hmm.

Chels said...

We like 'Snowie Rolie' by William Joyce.

We've made the dangling snowman ornaments on family fun.

One fun thing to do when you make a snowman outside is to take out a spray bottle or two of colored water to decorate with!