The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

The Snowman is a simple story about a boy and his snowman. It follows that classic trope of a snowman coming to life and then ending up melting. The thing Briggs does well is doing it all in illustration, and in a sort of comic book grid style.

By our metrics it doesn’t do very well. The only female character is the boy’s mother, who is basically just and only that. So no Bechdel. No people of colour. Nothing really except a boy and a snowman.

And yet it’s an awesome book to read with a small human. The thing I love about textless children’s picture books is it forces the whole reading experience to be a lot more active and interactive. It’s not just me reading a story to my snuggled up ratbag (though that is definitely one of my favourite things), because we have to engage in a totally different way. It becomes  a dialogue between him and me and the story in the images. “What do you see?” instead of “This is what happened”. And there is something really empowering and awesome about that.

Briggs does this very well, and I think this is one of my favourites of his stories. I wasn’t big on his Father Christmas, but this one is different. It feels timeless and there’s a universality to the simplicity of it.

If you’re going to read a Briggs, this is a great place to start.

One thought on “The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

  1. I think its interesting how much a fan you are of the textless picture books. I remember only one picture-only book from when I was a kid, and what I remember is picking it up every so often and looking at it and trying to work out why it had no words and what you were supposed to do with it (because I figured there must be something to it or why would it exist?). I assume it was different before I learnt to read, but I don’t have any memories from then


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