The Snowman and the Sun
Susan Tahdis and Ali Mafakheri
Tiny Owl Publishing
Even very young children know that when the sun shines on a snowman it melts. Some know that means he becomes water but most will not know what happens thereafter. Now, thanks to this gorgeous picture book told from the snowman’s viewpoint, they can become aware of the whole water cycle through a charming story. In this way they are more likely to remember the facts – if that’s all you want.
However, the publishers’ blurb tells us that it’s a ‘modern-day fable about how our attachments to people and things live on, though they change and sometimes disappear; this demonstrates how a good book can be read, interpreted and appreciated in many ways at different levels. The telling is gently humorous and in places, poetic: ‘The snowman ran as water over the ground. The ground tickled him. “What warm ground!” said the watery snowman.’
With both a science background and latterly a spiritual (though not religious) one I’d put the latter (fable) interpretation first but would happily share it with early years children after a snowy day when it could also lead to a science discussion.
Throughout the circular whole runs a delightfully playful visual subtext involving a cat, some fish, an ice-cream,
a bee on a bike (that one is a hoot)
and the boy builder of the snowman – love those odd shoes.
Love too, the graph paper background, in fact pretty much everything about this unassuming book.
Also showing the circular nature of things is:
Katrina McKelvey and Kirrili Lonergan
What is a weed? A flower growing in the wrong place, perhaps. That would certainly seem to be the case in this uplifting, understated debut picture book. At least it’s the view of the little girl narrator’s father who as the story opens has just mowed the grass, cutting down the dandelion puffballs she was wanting to blow. His daughter however loves the dandelions – the fuzziness of their petals, the delicate frailty of those parachute seeds. And she knows that although her favourite flowers have been mown down, they will come back. “I just have to wait now!” she says to her Dad. Yes that may be so but first there is a wonderful surprise awaiting her …
Immediately forgiving, the girl disperses the seeds blowing with her Dad, sending them drifting and spinning far out of reach …
chased for a while by father and child. Then the two of them lie down and imagine those parachutes (here the narrator’s voice loses some of its direct child-like simplicity) ‘swirling in the wind’ past the roses in the yard, the poppies lining the street, over the sunflowers in the park
and on, whirling round the weeping willows beside the river, beneath the oaks and out of town, twirling above the countryside eventually to be ‘collected by the sun.’ Here that child voice simplicity has returned.’ “Where do they really go, Dad?” I ask.’ And Dad himself completes the dandelion life cycle explaining how once dispersed, new plants will grow from the seeds, flower again and …
Magic? To a young child who hasn’t lost that innocence, yes perhaps. Certainly children retain their capacity to find beauty in, and treasure, simple things in the natural world, so long as we adults allow them time so slow down and be in the moment.
The warmth of the bond between father and daughter is beautifully portrayed in Kirrilli Lonergan’s soft, watercolour scenes, that have just a touch of whimsy to their summeriness.