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Snowmen All Year Hardcover – November 11, 2010
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From School Library Journal
About the Author
The husband-and-wife team behind the best-selling Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas, Carolyn and Mark Buehner are also the creators of the award-winning Fanny’s Dream. Upcoming collaborations include an original fairy tale about a lonely princess who decides to become a hairdresser. They live in Utah with their nine children.
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We love the stunning illustrations- each one could be a framed print on your wall. Every page has hidden images to find, and my son loves looking for them. This adds an element of interest for sure.
A few thoughts:
There is not a single page in any of the books that I wouldn't put up on my wall for decoration. Snowmen are cute in general, but these illustrations take it to a new level (and no, I don't think the book covers even begin to do justice to richness of the illustrations inside). But I do feel like the "Night" and "Christmas" are just a little deeper, more magical, filled with a longing almost akin to an adult reminiscing of his childhood imaginings. In contrast, Snowmen All Year seems to me thoroughly child centric. Which is great -- it's a book for kids! But as an adult looking at the pictures, which are so bright, the color so deeply saturated, it feels more like a typical kid's book (well, if typical kid's books had this quality of illustrations!). Of course, the illustrations fit the story perfectly, but still...5 stars for the illustrations compared to other books out there, but compared to the first two books, I honestly was a little disappointed.
When I first read Snowmen at Night, it nearly brought me to tears -- it so perfectly captures a child's dreaming up why his/her snowman's "grin is crooked, or he's lost a little height..." the next day. Snowmen at Christmas similarly concludes that the overnight Christmas frolicking results in "their smiles are more tender, their eyes softly shine...". The text in both is so beautiful, it feels like a poem (I actually enjoy listening to these in the car -- Audible sells the audio book).
Snowmen All Year reads like a kid's book. An imaginative book, to be sure, taking your young listener through activities like trick-or-treating and roller-coaster riding and kite flying. But for me, the text lacks that compelling mature element of the first two books. Is this a criticism? No, not really. I do not enjoy reading this newest installment for myself, BUT that is balanced by the fact that my almost 4 year old usually picks this one first. And after thinking about it, that makes sense. Each page has just a couple short lines of text, and the story line is very concrete, with more action verbs and less descriptive poetic language than the previous books. The text per page is less than the previous books as well, and each page illustrates a very distinct event.
To illustrate, I just want to share a quick sample of text from each book, and I think you'll see why it's easier for the younger-end of the audience to relate to this newest book.
"Snowmen at Night"
I think that snowmen start to slide
(when it gets really dark)
off the lawn and down the street--
right into the park.
"Snowmen at Christmas"
I think that while I'm snug in bed
Dreaming of Christmas treats,
The merry snowmen slip away
And hurry through the streets
"Snowmen All Year"
I'd teach him how to fly a kit
High above the trees;
Then we would dig for pirate gold
Or sail the seven seas.
In all -- I completely recommend all three books, but if you're only thinking of getting one or two (and you're not dealing with a really little kid), I'd go for Snowmen at Night first, then Snowmen at Christmas. Just my thought.
In Snowmen at Night, a young boy, noting how the snowman he built seems differently shaped the morning after being created, imagines the wonderful games snowmen play during the night while humans sleep. Similarly, in Snowmen at Christmas, he imagines how snowmen might celebrate the holiday. The Buehners' again follow this successful idea in Snowmen All Year. This time, though, a child day-dreams about having his snowman with him year-round and imagines all the things they would do together if that were the case. The adventures he plans are simple pleasures - kite flying and swimming, a day at the beach, one at the zoo and another at an amusement park, firefly chasing and camping out under the stars. These are things my grandchildren have done with friends and relatives - even with me! - and I think that commonality will connect them more deeply with the story, helping to make it another favorite.
The rhyming verse is simple and pleasant, but it is the artwork that really shines here. The glowing colors and expressive faces are joyous and warm, engaging children and adults alike. My favorite pictures have the snowman blowing out the candles on a birthday cake (the cheeks!) and contemplating his next move in a game of chess, chin propped in mittened hands. Adding to the fun, hidden pictures are incorporated into the artwork and children will enjoy searching for ducks, rabbits, cats and dinosaurs. A good many snowmen also hide in these pages - some peeking out from behind buildings or trees, others shaped in clouds or found in the space between them.
The snowmen books are, simply put, great fun to read and a delight to look at. I'd love to have a dozen more from Caralyn and Mark Buehner but, for now, I'll content myself with the three they've given us. I look forward to sharing this newest one often with children I love.
Very highly recommended.
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My daughter reads it every day!