Plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Raymond Briggs' classic The Snowman are gearing up, with partnerships with Backyard Cinema, The Royal Mint and Waterstones among them.
Penguin Random House Children's is working with Backyard Cinema on an immersive screening of the animated version of the story and separately with the Royal Albert Hall, which will host the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing the soundtrack alongside the film. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will show original artwork, including never-seen-before exhibits, and Bath Festival will run an event at the Bath Pavilion to celebrate Michael Morpurgo’s retelling of the story, due for publication in October.
Meanwhile The Royal Mint is creating a new 50 pence piece showing The Snowman and James, the hero of the story.
In terms of retail, PRH is creating Snowman point-of-sale and window materials for independent bookshops and 100 branches of Waterstones, whose flagship shop in Piccadilly is running Snowman-themed Christmas event.
“People know and love The Snowman for so many reasons - because they read the book as a child or because they watch the film or stage show every year - and the story has become a tradition,” said a spokesperson for the publisher. “For so many people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Snowman. It’s a timeless story - a celebration of the innocence of childhood - and we wanted to celebrate the important place it holds in our collective consciousness.”
As well as the Michael Morpurgo novelisation, announced in March, PRH is releasing a hardback, gift edition of Briggs’s original picture book with a die-cut cover, and reissuing the board book for babies and toddlers.
Other celebration plans include a Puffin Virtually Live event in December for schools with Morpurgo and illustrator Robin Shaw, licensing deals with companies such as Orange Tree for toys and Build-A-Bear, and bespoke products for Harrods and Fenwick.
Briggs published The Snowman as a wordless picture book in 1978 and was surprised when it became a festive hit because he felt the story was about loss and mortality. The book’s position as a family favourite was cemented by the release of the animated film adaptation, also wordless, with music by Howard Blake, and introduced by David Bowie.
Penguin Random House said Briggs, who won the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, will do some national media interviews and “a couple of very select projects”.
The publisher will also announce the reader of a new audiobook version in the autumn.