The snowman and the children’s writer

Posted on Feb 9, 2015 | 2 comments

SnowmanI saw a snowman this morning. There’s been a melt here and little snow is left except in places where it was gathered and packed, like the mountains built by plows, now puny mounds. And this solitary snowman, little more than a finger of ice standing alone in the middle of a winter-brown lawn.

Snowmen are like Benjamin Button, I thought. They start out fully-grown and gradually shrink and regress until they are just a seed of a person. Tragic figures, really.

And then I thought about the conference I’d just returned from, filled with children’s writers and illustrators, many of us at or past the moment when the culture calls us middle-aged, but nevertheless making it our work to access and give voice to the child that still lives in us so we can connect with children who might like to hear a story we have to tell.

Benjamin Button was a tragic hero, always missing the boat because of his reversed development. And to be honest, there are elements of my childhood and teen-hood I would rather not go through again. But wouldn’t it be great if time could move both ways, giving us wisdom and experience but allowing us to retain our sense of play and wonder?

My favorite authors make that happen, writing books that speak in a voice that is true to a child’s perspective, but that deliver a story sculpted from the accrued experience that comes with having hung around this world a while.

Seen in that light, the snowman looked less tragic to me now, shrunken though he was. He was distilled. Chiseled. Reduced to essentials. Weathered and melted, but still hanging out in the yard, ready to play.

Sort of silly. Sort of heroic. Sort of like a children’s writer.


  1. Abandoned snowmen will never look the same to me after reading this sad yet uplifting blog. .

  2. <3

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