Pros:lovely illustrations, tender tone
The Bottom Line: If you liked "just Bob," get to know "just Sue".
Three years ago, I read A Snowman Named Just Bob, a tender picture book written by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by Karen Hillard Good. The two have since collaborated on Reindeer Christmas, which I like even better, but when I saw that there was a sequel to Just Bob, I had to have a look. Good’s country-flavored illustrations are lovely an old-fashioned, reminding me of a Lang Folk Art calendar, while Moulton’s verse is presented as artistically as possible, intersecting with the paintings in surprising ways, whether it’s a block of text or a wispy swirl.
Recommend this product?
A Snowgirl Named Just Sue takes place in February, a couple of months after the young narrator and his family built Bob. “All the holidays had passed,” he says. “Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah - each one had been a blast!” This line strikes me as a little odd, as it seems to imply that his family celebrated them all, which doesn’t seem too likely. But maybe he’s just speaking in general terms.
In any event, it’s getting warmer, and rain and sun are beginning to wear away the snowy friend so beloved by his creators. As Valentine’s Day approaches, they fear that another storm will wash Bob away entirely. But instead, that mooshy-gooshy holiday brings a very different type of shower. Not rain, and not snowflakes, but hearts, falling in “ruby, rose, vermilion, pink, / blush, crimson, coral, flame! / We tried our best, but there were reds / we couldn’t even name!”
Not only is Bob able to survive in such strange precipitation, the heartfall inspires the creation of Sue, a mate for Bob. Like A Snowman Named Just Bob, this story has a definite melancholy edge to it, and I would say it’s even more pronounced here when paired up with the romantic storyline. It’s really more of a Valentine story than Christmas, but with the continued presence of snow and the prevalent association of snowmen with Christmas, this sequel covers two holidays, and really three; as I read, I kept being reminded of the classic New Year’s song, Old Lang Syne.
Bob and Sue are not going to be with this family forever. But just as certainly, these “old acquaintances” will never “be forgot”.
This review is an entry in the Lean-n-Mean Write-Off VIII. Sometimes, less really can be more! It's also an entry in Chelledun's "Get Those Holiday Reviews Out" Write-Off. Let's get into the Christmas spirit!