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The Black Snowman

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Category: Holiday

Christmas is coming, and snow is falling on the city. Jacob and his little brother make a snowman out of the dingy snow on their street, and wrap their creation in a scrap of cloth they find. But the cloth is really a kente, an African storytelling shawl that has special, magical ...

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Overview

Let the Scholastic Bookshelf be your guide through the whole range of your child's experience--laugh with them, learn with them, read with them!
Category: Holiday

Christmas is coming, and snow is falling on the city. Jacob and his little brother make a snowman out of the dingy snow on their street, and wrap their creation in a scrap of cloth they find. But the cloth is really a kente, an African storytelling shawl that has special, magical qualities. Soon, Jacob's snowman has come to life-and is about to teach him an unforgettable lesson about history, hope, heritage...and faith.

Through the powers of a magical kente, a black snowman comes to life and helps young Jacob discover the beauty of his black heritage as well as his own self-worth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jacob Miller is an inner-city boy who hates being black and poor. He reluctantly assists his little brother Peewee in making a black snowman from the filthy snow in the back alley. The figure comes alive after they unknowingly drape him in a fragment of the magical kente , a cloth worn by African storytellers for hundreds of years. The snowman challenges Jacob's outlook on life by telling him all the wonderful things that are black, and mysteriously conjuring forth brave heroes from African tribal tradition. When Peewee is trapped inside a burning building, the snowman shows Jacob a way to save his brother while exhorting the boy to believe in himself. Using mystical elements and the power of the past, Mendez, in his first book, weaves a stirring tale of Jacob's transformation from a bitter victim of his situation into a proud fighter for his life. Byard's haunting color drawings bring to life not only the snowman; they successfully portray the many contrasts between Jacob's dour moods, Peewee's optimism, the dingy apartment and the eerie parade of stately African tribesmen. The valuable lesson inherent in The Black Snowman is not just for black children but for all who struggle for identity within their own worlds. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-- Working in full color with pastels and watercolor, Byard illustrates an unusual story which successfully blends contemporary realism and historical fantasy. Jacob Miller is an angry, bitter city child who associates his family's poverty with being black. Despite Jacob's pessimistic attitude, his younger brother Peewee persuades him to help build a snowman, even though the snow is black from city dirt and traffic. ``A black snowman,'' says Jacob, with his usual sarcasm. ``Just what I always wanted.'' Picking through trashcans to find a wardrobe for the snowman, Peewee comes across a colorful rag which he drapes around their new creation. It turns out to be a magical kente cloth from West Africa which has the power to restore memory, and it brings the snowman to life. Through a dreamlike sequence later that night, the snowman transforms bricks and trashcan lids into majestic African warriors and queens. He tells Jacob stories of his ancient African ancestors, thereby instilling in the boy a sense of self-respect and pride in his heritage. Mendez' message for the current generation of black youth is clear: be proud of yourself and your African ancestry. Due to the length and complexity of the story, The Black Snowman is suitable for a slightly older audience than is typical for the picture-book format. A large, clear typeface makes it accessible to newly independent readers, while Byard's large, bold illustrations make it a candidate for reading aloud to the same age group. And Byard's illustrations are not to be missed. In mood and content, they most closely resemble her work for Eloise Greenfield's Africa Dream (Crowell, 1977), although here her use of color gives added emotional depth and power to her work. While the art style is realistic, the soft, rounded shapes express the homey security of Jacob's family. A wide range of luminous blue, gray, brown and purple hues enriches the textured beauty of the illustrations. The artist's focus on a glowing darker spectrum in the dramatic nighttime sequences subtly reinforces the snowman's message to Jacob that there is dark beauty all around him, if he would only look for it. --Kathleen T. Horning, Madison Pub . Lib .#
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439769938
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Series: Scholastic Bookshelf Holiday Series
  • Edition description: First Bookshelf Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.21 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Magical Tale

    Teaches the importance of being proud of your heritage. Takes place around Christmas but is an excellent read anytime. Involves a snowman who wears a scarf from Africa. Magic comes from the scarf.

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