The cover illustration shows a scar-faced snowman near a mailbox.
Back cover description
NO MELTING ALLOWED!
Jaclyn used to live with her aunt Greta in Chicago. But not anymore. They've moved to a place called Sherpia. It's a tiny village on the edge of the Arctic Circle. Jaclyn can't believe she's stuck out in Nowheresville. No movie theaters. No malls. No nothing. Plus, there's something really odd about the village. At night there are strange howling noises. And in front of every house there's a snowman. A creepy snowman with a red scarf. A deep scar on his face. And a really evil smile....
The book begins with the main character, Jaclyn, reciting the following poem:
- "When the snows blow wild and the day grows old.
- Beware, the snowman, my child.
- Beware, the snowman.
- He brings the cold."
Jaclyn and her Aunt Greta have just moved. Aunt Greta, Jaclyn's legal guardian, decided that they needed a change from the blistery winter of Chicago, so they moved to the Arctic Circle. Being that Greta is her only living adult relative (her mother died when she was four and her father has mysteriously disappeared), she has no say in the matter. So she finds herself making the lateral move to the small arctic village of Sherpia. While driving into the village, Jaclyn notices that every yard features an identical snowman, one with a crimson scarf, twisted branches for arms, and a mysterious scar carved into its face.
They pull up to their new home, a small, modest building with a flat roof. Jaclyn looks out at all the snow covering the village. Her new bedroom is actually the attic, and the ceiling is so low that she can't stand up inside. But she does have that window. After looking outside for a while, she gets antsy and goes back downstairs.
Jaclyn wonders what her friends are doing back in Chicago. She imagines they are at a Bulls game. Jaclyn offers to help her aunt unpack but Greta insists she go out and investigate her new neighborhood. Jaclyn already saw most of what the town had to offer driving up to their shack: a church the size of a garage, a schoolhouse the size of a garage, a general store the size of a garage, a garage. She decides to investigate the other side of the village, the side with the enormous mountain at the end. As she treks through the thick, heavy snow towards the mountain, she notices more snowmen identical to the one in her front yard. Red scarf, gnarled branches, facial scar. Jaclyn treks a little deeper towards the outskirts of the village when she meets the children responsible for these creations: The preteen sibling duo of Rolonda and Eli Browning.
The children are very friendly, until Jaclyn presses them about why they make all of the snowmen look alike. They get even unfriendlier, when she tells them she is going to climb the mountain at the end of the village. They try to dissuade her from ascending the snow-covered peak by half-joking about how cold it gets, but Jaclyn suspects there's another reason for their apprehension. Jaclyn stays to talk a little longer with the children, who remain mostly friendly, then heads off to continue her investigation of the far-side of the village. As she leaves, she reassures the siblings that she is not going to climb the mountain. She starts climbing the mountain. After walking for some time and leaving behind the other houses of the village, she happens upon a little shack nestled within the forest near the bottom of the mountain. The door is ajar and she peeks her head inside. Suddenly, a ferocious white wolf attacks her. A voice cries out, "Down Wolfbane!"
The wolf's white-bearded owner is revealed to be wearing a denim shirt. The lanky man, who has long gray hair tied in a ponytail behind his back, accuses Jaclyn of breaking into his shack. She gets spooked and runs away towards the mountain. The man gives chase and shouts at her "Beware, the snowman!". She stops and they face each other from opposite sides of an icy road. He tells her that she can't climb the mountain because she will not want to meet the snowman who lives in a cave on the top of the mountain. If she meets the snowman, she will never return.
Jaclyn turns to head towards the mountain again. So the old man sics his wolf on her. Jaclyn runs as fast as she can up the icy, winding mountain road. After she gets her bearings and makes her way back to the road, she sees that Wolfbane has stopped his pursuit. Jaclyn eases her way back to the village, picking up pace and running through the neighborhood until she arrives at her house.
Rolonda catches up with Jaclyn and asks her why she so rudely ran past her house without saying hello. Jaclyn tells her about what the old man said and Rolonda tells her that his name is Conrad. Rolonda quietly reveals that he might work for the snowman. Jaclyn asks her to repeat that. Rolonda refuses, as her younger brother Eli is within hearing range and might get spooked. She tells Jaclyn to meet her at church the following afternoon. Once safely inside her new home, Jaclyn asks her aunt if she had ever heard anything about an evil snowman that lived on top of the mountain. Aunt Greta acts nervous, but tells her niece no.
Later that night, Jaclyn is having trouble sleeping so she decides to take a small walk outside in the snow. She spies one of the many identical snowmen in the yard. It slowly nods his head towards her until it falls off-- it was just the wind! She hears a wolf howl and gets spooked, so she decides to retreat back inside, only she is locked herself out. So she climbs back in through the window and decides to go through her boxes of unpacked books to see if she can find the poetry book the snowman rhyme came from, as she is convinced there is a second verse. Greta hears her making a racket. She scolds Jaclyn for going outside at night and insists she go back to bed. The next morning, Jaclyn's poetry book is nowhere to be found.
After scaring herself by mistaking one of the identical snowmen for a horrible monster, Jaclyn joins Rolonda inside the church. They sit in a lonely pew and Rolonda tells Jaclyn the history of the village. "Years ago, two sorcerers lived in this village. A man and a woman. Everyone knew they were sorcerers. But everyone left them alone."
One day, the two sorcerers were playing around in the snow. For fun they brought a snowman to life. Only once they did, they could not control the snowman. And also the snowman was evil. So everyone in the village chased the snowman up the mountain where he still lives in an ice cave. Conrad moved his shack to the bottom of the mountain and no one knows if he is there to protect the village against the snowman or to work for the snowman. Oh and the reason why there are all those identical snowmen is because everyone in the village is afraid of when the evil snowman comes down at night to wander the village, so they made the copycat snowmen to serve as a tribute, hoping he will be honored and not harm them. As soon as Rolonda finishes the story, Jaclyn bursts out laughing. Rolonda insists it is true and says good night.
As Jaclyn exits the church, Eli shows up to tell her about why he's so scared of the snowman. Turns out he not only saw the snowman but the snowman saw him. He and some of his friends snuck up to the ice cave, went inside, saw the snowman, were chased by the snowman, and ran away to safety. Eli has not told his sister about it because it is simply too terrifying. That night Jaclyn dreams about dozens of cute kittens with blue eyes and fluffy white hair. Then suddenly the kittens grow red scarves and turn evil, hissing and clawing at each other. Upon waking, she decides to sneak away and climb the mountain. Even though she had promised her aunt the night before that she wouldn't go near the ice cave, she simply has to see for herself. But Aunt Greta keeps Jaclyn inside for most of the day. When she finally gets to leave the house, she runs into Rolonda and Eli, who are there to help her build her safety snowman. They are very shocked and upset when she tells them her plan to visit the ice cave.
Jaclyn strikes a deal with them: If she agrees to build a safety snowman for her house, they agree to come with her and keep Conrad busy while she sneaks up to the top of the mountain. The siblings reluctantly agree.
The plan works and while Rolonda and Eli distract Conrad by running up the mountain in the opposite direction, Jaclyn ascends the peak and makes it inside the ice cave. She manages to get a few feet in when she sees a large white mass moving towards her: it is the snowman! She backs away from the cave and falls off the cliff, but manages to grab onto the icy ledge. As she hangs from the mountain, the snowman yells at her, demanding she identify herself. She does and the snowman informs her that he's her father.
The snowman explains what really happened. Ten years ago, her mother turned her father into a snowman. Her mother tried to reverse the spell but could not. Now Greta has come back because not only is Jaclyn's mother a sorcerer, but so is her aunt! The spell wears off every ten years so Greta has to return to renew the spell. The snowman tells his daughter that there is only one way to cure him, but he can't tell her what that way is. If he tells her how to reverse the spell, then the magic actually gets stronger and lasts longer. But he can give her a hint. He then recites the song from the beginning of the book. Jaclyn had her doubts but now that he also knew that rhyme, she knows he's telling the truth, and she also knows what will reverse the spell: the second verse! She races out of the cave to find her poetry book, only to run into Greta. Greta is very angry with Jaclyn for coming up to the ice cave. But Jaclyn figures that since her aunt is responsible for imprisoning her father in snow, she loses this argument. Greta insists that she is not a sorceress and produces Jaclyn's poetry book. Jaclyn pleads for the book so she can free her father, but Greta laughs, telling her that the snowman isn't her father at all, but is actually a monster.
Jaclyn does not believe her, but that hardly matters because Greta tears out the page with the poem on it and throws it over the ledge. However, the wind picks up and blows it right into Jaclyn's hands. The snowman encourages her to read it aloud. She gets almost all the way through when Greta advances and rips the poem out of her hands, tearing it to shreds. She tells her niece that she can't have her freeing the snowman. Luckily for Jaclyn, she already saw and memorized the last line of the poem. She recites in whole the final verse of the poem while Greta shrieks in anger: "When the snows melt and the warm sun is with thee, Beware, the snowman-- For the snowman shall go free!"
Jaclyn watches as the snowman begins to melt, revealing not her father, but a horrible monster! The red-scaled beast cackles and heaves the poetry book off the cliff. Its yellow eyes gleam as it prepares to throw Jaclyn to her death. She pleads with the monster, reminding him that she freed him. "Is that my reward?" she asks, he agrees that is her reward. He clutches her and her aunt in each hand and holds them over the cliff. However, he quickly throws them back into the cave as his attention turns to the activity outside the ice cave.
A parade of snowmen line the entrance to the cave, extending all the way down the mountainside. One by one they march inside the cave, pushing the monster back further into the cave. Dozens of the snowmen pile up inside until they pull back, revealing the red monster has been safely frozen inside the wall of the cave.
Jaclyn wonders who cast a spell on the snowmen, if Greta was not a sorceress. It was Conrad who cast the spell! He pokes his head into the ice cave and reveals that he is Jaclyn's father. He had stayed behind to keep an eye on the snowman out of guilt, but was very glad to finally be reunited with his daughter. Their reunion hug is interrupted by the cadre of snowmen still lining the entrance. One of the snowmen speaks where it asks if they can go back down to the village, because it's too cold on top of the mountain.
Cover Art Gallery
- The French version of this book has a cover with many snowmen.
- There is a quote where the snowman reveals that he's the protagonist's father. She cries out “Nooooooo!” This is likely an allusion to Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
- This plot was loosely re-used in the book Planet of the Lawn Gnomes, with the whole neighborhood having the same lawn gnomes, similarly to the same Snowman on every lawn in this book.