Prather’s Pick: A magical book about friendship

Diane Prather
Diane Prather

The snowflakes that floated down around me this morning as I did chores were just the right consistency for making a snowman — maybe even a snowman friend like the one in this week’s picture book for children.

“A Snowman Named Just Bob” is a charming book written by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch. The book has a message — perhaps more — about friendship. Although the story takes place in November, the publisher believes it is a “story for all seasons.”

The story, told in rhyme, is narrated by a family member, a child. The reader never sees the child’s face, only the red hair that pokes out from under a winter hat.

It all begins late one Thanksgiving Day after the family has eaten a feast that Mother prepared. As most of us do, following a big meal, the family is now resting. Two of the family members are cuddled under blankets as they lie across overstuffed chairs in the living room. Only their feet hang out over the arms of the chairs. The television is on, and a weatherman is predicting there will be no snow tonight.

However, the daylight is growing dim, and the clouds start to roll in. A big white rabbit watches the seemingly magical sight in the sky overhead. The moon breaks into a laugh and then disappears. The clouds open up and stars dance. The wind comes up, and finally one snowflake falls. The rabbit holds it on his paw. Then other snowflakes fall, and despite the weatherman’s forecast, soon everything is covered with snow. The rabbit even makes a snow angel.

It seems that the storm may be over. The narrator has bundled up and is outdoors now. The moon comes out and gives a wink, and peace settles over everything. Bob is there in the snowflakes that fall. In a whisper, Bob wants the narrator to gather up the snowflakes and make them into a ball so he can have shape. The problem is that the child has no idea how to do that — there are snowflakes everywhere.

And then Sir Moon speaks about friendship. It’s the book’s message. The narrator runs into the house and gets his family to come help. They roll up balls of snow. They make the snowman’s face using a carrot and coal. They even give him a coat, hat and scarf. Just Bob has form, and the snowman has a surprise for them.

This is a gentle book with a wonderful message for everyone. The artist’s illustrations seem to dance across the pages.

“A Snowman Named Just Bob” was published by Lang Books in 1999. A hardcover book is available from Downtown Books for $10 to $12. The book’s ISBN # is 1-800-967-3399.

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