The Illustrated History of the Snowman
By Bob Eckstein
I don’t know what it is that’s so fascinating about snowmen, but just like scarecrows, they captured my heart as a child and I’ve loved them ever since. We draw them, decorate with them, make snowman Christmas cookies, watch them on TV, and build them outdoors the first chance we get. So when this book was staring at me at the bookstore, there was no leaving it behind. I knew my family would enjoy it, and we surely have for the past two winter seasons.
“Who made the first snowman? Who first came up with the idea of placing one snowball atop another and then sticking a carrot in the top sphere?”
The author set out on a quest to find out who made the very first snowman. Here in this book he presents all of his extensive (over seven year) research on the history of the snowman. It goes way back in time all the way to the dark ages. The book is somewhat of a snowman ‘encyclopedia’–chock-full of beautiful photos from around the world, which I’ll admit was my favorite aspect of the book. There’s so much to learn here though: world records including the largest and smallest snowman, snowmen in pop culture (my favorite: the Burl Ives snowman from the original children’s special), snowman festivals, appearances of snowmen with historical figures and even wars, how they’re celebrated in other cultures, use in art and politics, and fun little facts about snowmen that are sure to surprise you.
We had no idea just how much historical background the snowman actually had! It was nostalgic for me in many ways, especially looking at some of the old vintage snowman ornaments and decorations from the past. We also loved the fun facts.
“Average number of calories burned, per hour, building a snowman: 238”
If you like snowmen, definitely give this book a try. My whole family has enjoyed it, including the children. My only wish is that the organization were different; it would be nice in chronological order. There are a few parts that are quite offensive too, but it’s fairly easy to skip over those. It’s good to be aware of that if you’re viewing this with young children.
This book is one to revisit over and over again.
- Hardcover: 216 pages
- Publisher: Globe Pequot (September 1, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1493036661
- ISBN-13: 978-1493036660
A thoroughly entertaining exploration, this book travels back in time to shed light on the snowman’s enigmatic past — from the present day, in which the snowman reigns as the King of Kitsch, to the Dark Ages, with the creation of the very first snowman. Eckstein’s curiosity began playfully enough, but soon snowballed into a (mostly) earnest quest of chasing Frosty around the world, into museums and libraries, and seeking out the advice of leading historians and scholars. The result is a riveting history that reaches back through centuries and across cultures — sweeping from fifteenth-century Italian snowballs to eighteenth-century Russian ice sculptures to the regrettable “white-trash years” (1975-2000). The snowman is not just part of our childhood memories, but is an integral part of our world culture, appearing — much like a frozen Forrest Gump — alongside dignitaries and celebrities during momentous events. Again and again, the snowman pops up in rare prints, paintings, early movies, advertising and, over the past century, in every art form imaginable. And the jolly snowman — ostensibly as pure as the driven snow — also harbors a dark past full of political intrigue, sex, and violence.
With over two hundred illustrations, The Illustrated History of the Snowman is a truly original winter classic — smart, surprisingly enlightening, and quite simply the coolest book ever.
This is book #7 for the 20 Books for Christmas reading challenge. You can click on the image below if you’d like to see my progress or find out how to join in!
Thanks for reading my review! What Christmas books have you read this year?