The Book That Made Me: Nicola Davies 15/05/19
To mark the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs' much-loved picture book, Michael Morpurgo has written a chapter book full of these timeless characters.
Michael Morpurgo's The Snowman is brilliant for slightly older readers but also those who hanker for backstory – after all, the original was wordless. Morpurgo’s version gives more detail to James, the little boy. He has a stutter, which is why he doesn't talk much. Friends have excluded him from things because of this stammer, so he often feels lonely. All of this gives another reading to the tale (if you want one), which only makes the magic feel more special. Morpurgo also fleshes out James’s family – and Grandma, in particular, really livens things up. There are also some modern updates.
However, Morpurgo is careful to hit every familiar beat. There is still spectacular flying, and dancing snowpeople, and Father Christmas to see, and the pulse of the northern lights. The pencil drawings by Robin Shaw are full of character and charm and very much like the original. Everything that makes The Snowman feel wondrous for children, and cosy and nostalgic for parents, is here in this version. But the ending is gentler – with a note of hope for magical times to come.
All in all, a book made for snuggles and wishes.