What does a snowman do when he’s challenged to a fight? His young human friend finds out when everyone in the forest gathers to see the epic duel in the latest in Lapid and Pasek’s Snowman Paul series (Snowman Paul at the Concert Hall, 2016, etc.).
Snowman Paul’s young friend Dan worries when he sees his mischievous human friend, Bill, who looks to be up to no good. Bill has befriended Snowman Nick, a behemoth of a snowman with blocky features and a fighter’s exterior. Bill issues the challenge: Nick wants to fight Paul in a snowman duel! What is the twig-haired Paul to do against the pebble-toothed, wicked-looking Nick? Dan is worried, but Paul has no concerns as he smilingly offers a copy of “Rules for Duels in Snowman Land” to Nick and Bill. Bill points out what looks like a wrestling ring on a hill, and they pledge to meet at midnight. All the snowmen and animals and children (including a diverse group of kids who travel via pirate ship) make their ways to the ring, “For Snowman Duels are quite rare.” When Dan arrives ringside, he sees Bill prepared for battle in a helmet and armor with a big stick. But where is Paul? Sleeping! Paul’s still untroubled, climbing into the ring without armor or weapons. Like young readers, who might be nervous by this point, Dan can’t watch. But when he opens his eyes, it’s over, and Paul is the victor. It turns out that Snowman Duels are just glorified staring contests and that Paul and Nick are good friends. In her eye-catching illustrations, Pasek uses contrasting color to great effect, accenting her cartoonlike characters with bright yellows and oranges against a blue winter background. The anticlimactic ending may be a relief for young readers concerned about what would happen to poor Paul, but stouter-hearted readers may be disappointed that there wasn’t any risk to begin with; Paul let Dan worry the whole story for naught.
Fantastic pictures, enchanting snowman characters, and fluid rhymes will be a draw for winter-loving readers, many of whom will wish they had their own snowman friends to duel with.