‘The Hawaii Snowman’By Christine Le, Illustrated by Michel Le

When Christmas approaches each year in Hawai‘i, colorful decorations are hung on houses, trees are erected and holiday music streams from the radio. Something always seems to be missing on the islands when compared to colder climates with their snowmen, sleighs, icicles and flannel pajamas.

The tropical climate of Hawai‘i lacks the chilly trademarks of the holiday — watering down the Christmas spirit you witness in movies and commercials. But a new children’s book has changed that, giving Hawai‘i its own unique sense of place and meaning to this winter holiday.

“The Hawai‘i Snowman” was released in September by Mutual publishing ($14.95); 36 pages of stunning artwork illustrated by Michel Le paired with a charming story written by Christine Le.

While the characters on these pages are predictable — reindeer, snowmen and Santa — their characterization is not. These are not silly, seasonal cartoons who are merely kind and wise, they also have close, personal relationships with the moon and sea. And though Santa makes his delivery rounds on the notorious eve, there is no focus on material gifts. Christine Le reaches for more progressive, human lessons to impart on her readers.

This tale spans the globe, beginning with a lonely snowman atop a cold mountain at a ski resort. He is granted a wish by the whispering moon. His wish? To go to Hawai‘i. He embarks on a journey across the ocean with an ice-sculpture reindeer that is being shipped to a hotel in Honolulu.

When he lands in Hawai‘i, illustrator Michel Le presents readers with an exquisite, illuminated two-page spread of the snowman on the beach at Waikiki at night conversing with the ocean. It’s no wonder this illustration was chosen as the cover of the book.

Michel Le’s illustrations are a balance of realistic drawings with mystical subjects. The pictures have a unique dimension to them as well; with scenes very close up or far away, offering depth and dimension. The cover pages of the book are filled with the artist’s early sketches, which are not only artfully displayed, but interesting for children to see the process of creating art, especially a quality finished product like this one.

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