The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is one of the books on our shelves that I could not wait to share with my son. I clearly remember the magical hold this classic book had over me as a child. The Snowman is a story told without words, that allows children control as the breathtakingly beautiful illustrations take your imagination by the hand and soaring into the sky.
Overnight the snow has fallen and a boy wakes up, dresses as quickly as he can and runs downstairs to go outside. He spends all day making a snowman, complete with hat, scarf and a satsuma nose.
When it is eventually time to go inside the boy can not take his eyes off his snowman and he eventually falls into a restless sleep. In the middle of the night he wakes and creeps downstairs to check on his snowman. When he opens the door to the garden the Snowman comes to life. The boy invites the Snowman into his home and gives him a tour of the house, including the Snowman’s favourites, the fridge and the chest freezer. Burt absolutely loves the illustrations of the boy and the Snowman in the parents’ bedroom, where the Snowman tries on Dad’s trousers, Mums’ hat and Dad’s glasses.
Once the boy has shown the Snowman his world the Snowman leads the boy by the hand into the garden at a run and all of a sudden they are soaring into the sky. They fly over towns, cities and fields. Eventually they land on a boat to look back at the coast then, all too suddenly, it is time to go home. They launch into the night and fly back to the boy’s garden.
You can see from the illustrations that the boy does not want to leave the Snowman and that the Snowman is gently reassuring and encouraging him to go back inside. The book doesn’t need any words as every picture says so much.
The boy reluctantly goes indoors and falls back to sleep. When he wakes he rushes downstairs and out into the garden, but the snowman has melted. All that is left is his hat, scarf and nose. It’s the perfect moment to end the book on as you can reflect on the boy’s feelings at that moment and endlessly imagine what happens next.
The story made such an impression on me that I remember making a snowman in the garden and, just like the boy in the story, I sat by the window all evening waiting for my snowman to magically transform into life. My imagination was captivated and if I am honest, it still is!
For me The Snowman is a story of magic, love and loss. In the film adaptation the ending is softened as the boy is left with a momento of his magical night but in the book the end is quite blunt. The Snowman is gone. How you then interpret that ending depends on you. I always choose to look on the story from the perspective that ‘all good things must come to an end’. The snow will fall again, there may be other snowmen and they may never be as wonderful as the Snowman but the boy has the memories and he will never forget. You could choose to think more about the science of melting, or look more at the friendship between the boy and the Snowman. It is the mark of a classic story that you can look at it in many different ways and I know that we will keep coming back to this book over the years and each time we can talk about a different aspect.
Here are some ideas or questions that you might want to use to start a discussion in your family. You know your family and which questions they are ready to tackle now and which can be left for another day:
- What do you think happened to the Snowman?
- How do you think the boy feels at the end of the story?
- How do you feel at the end of the story?
- Have you ever heard the saying ‘all good things must come to an end’? What do you think that means?
- Is it true that all good things have to end?
- If one good things ends do you think that another good thing might come along soon?
- What good things might be coming to the boy?
- What do you think that the boy did next?
- Do you think that the boy will always remember the Snowman?
- Can the boy remember the Snowman and the good times they had even though the Snowman has gone?
Snowman crafts and activities for kids
Due to the lack of actual snow, after we read The Snowman we made our own Snowman out of a milk carton and cotton wool. Have a look at the Pinterest Board full of snowman crafts and activities for kids…
- Read and Create milk carton snowman
- Red Ted Art snow and ice activities
- The Imagination Tree snow and ice play ideas
- The Mummysphere peppermint snowmen
- Red Ted Art snowglobes
- Science Sparks pretend snow
- Here Come the Girls indoor snow
- The Mummysphere coconut snowballs
What have you been reading this week?