Jacob and his younger brother, Peewee, build a dark snowman from grimy city snow. It comes to life when they drape it with a colorful rag that happens to be a kente--an ancient African storyteller's stole. Reacting to Jacob's disgust with being poor and black, the snowman, in rotund speech, reminds Jacob of his heritage: ""Have you sat at the table of your forefathers? Have you accepted the shield of courage they have passed along to you?"" Later, with the snowman's help, Jacob rescues Peewee from a burning building, thus restoring his own self-esteem. Byard's full-page art glows with rich, dark colors that shine from the smoky tones of the dreary cityscape, the deliberately vague legendary figures looming from the shadows, the kente fragment shining like a promise. This earnest story (Mendez's first) has a promising beginning with the family's interaction explicating the causes of Jacob's unhappiness, and it deals with important themes; unfortunately, though, its treatment of them is hasty and oversimplified. Flawed, then, but of value.