Jason, Lizzy and the Snowman Village by Charity & Ryan Kountz
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Young Adult, Holiday, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (49 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe
After Jason and Lizzy’s family move hundreds of miles south from Chicago to Texas, leaving behind friends, school and the only home they’ve ever known, they are desperate for something familiar. Together, Jason and Lizzy make a late-night wish upon a star for snow that launches them on an incredible adventure even bigger than their recent cross-country move.
Join Jason and Lizzy as they make new friends, visit far-away lands, and learn, sometimes, home is more than where you live.
Without snow no one will be able to celebrate Christmas this year. Can Lizzie and Jason change the forecast before it’s too late?
The first time I realized that I adored this book was when Jason and Lizzie encounter a toy plane that suddenly grows large enough for them to climb inside of it. It reminded me of the cakes and bottles of mysterious liquids in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that cause similar changes in people, and it was a wonderful introduction to the talking snowmen, elves, reindeer, and other magical creatures Lizzie and Jason are about to encounter. I never would have guessed the North Pole was so well populated, or that Mr. and Mrs. Claus have so many other duties beyond preparing for Christmas each year!
The chapters are short, and each one provides a natural stopping point for families who would rather stretch out the adventure over several nights. The last few pages include a series of questions parents and caregivers can use to start a conversation about certain decisions Lizzie, Jason and other characters make throughout the course of the plot. I prefer asking open-ended questions about generosity and the Christmas Spirit, but I can see how this resource could be useful in a classroom or small group setting.
It took some time to figure out the most appropriate age recommendation for this tale. Certain vocabulary words may be too difficult for kids who have just moved onto chapter books, but if an adult reads it aloud the imaginative plot will delight preschoolers and early elementary students who believe in the magic of Christmas. The plot is best suited for kids between the ages of 5 and 8, but there is nothing in it that would be inappropriate for a slightly younger audience.
One of the trickiest aspects of writing in the fantasy genre for this age group is crafting a story that stands up to endless repetition. Each chapter includes unexpected references to characters from ancient myths and legends that are sure to make adult readers and older children crack a smile. Mother Nature was particularly amusing, and I hope to meet her again soon when Jason and Lizzie go on other adventures.
Jason, Lizzy and the Snowman Village is an instant classic. I highly recommend introducing it to the children in your life, and I can’t wait for the next installment in this series.