Najo and the Snowman

By David R. Collins

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    Najo could not believe his eyes as he looked out his bedroom window.

    Snow was everywhere. It covered the bushes and trees. In fact, it covered the whole front yard.

    Najo rubbed his eyes after looking at the bright white snow. He had never seen snow before, because it was always warm and sunny in the Indian village where he used to live.

    Najo turned away from the window. Quickly he washed and dressed himself and ran downstairs. His mother was in the kitchen.

    “Mama!” Najo cried. “Have you seen the snow?”

    “Yes, little one,” Najo’s mother laughed. “I have seen it. The boys across the street have seen it too. Look out the front window.”

    Najo ran to the front window and looked out. Across the street were four boys playing in the snow.

    “The snow is wet,” Najo’s mother said, “and it packs together. The boys are building a man of snow. They will have a big snowman when they finish. Maybe you could help them.”

    Najo shook his head. He plopped down in a chair and watched the boys. They were laughing and tossing snow at each other. Sometimes they fell down and rolled around in the fluffy whiteness.

    Najo wished his family had never come to live in the city. He missed his old house, but most of all he missed his old friends.

    “You will make new friends,” his father had told him encouragingly.

    “How?” Najo asked.

    “There are many ways. You will find one.”

    But Najo had not found a way. In the two weeks he had been in their new house, Najo had made no friends at all.

    Najo heard the boys laugh and he looked out the window to see one of the boys put a red cap on the snowman’s head.

    Suddenly Najo jumped up. He could make a friend—a snowman friend.

    Najo ran to the closet and put on his warm coat and mittens. He pulled on his boots and took his sombrero off a hook.

    The breeze outside made Najo’s cheeks tingle. He jumped into the soft, cold snow and scooped it up with his hands. He threw a handful into the air and laughed when it landed on his upturned face.

    Najo played in the snow for a long time before he stopped to make his snowman friend. First he rolled a fair-size ball of snow. But when he packed it more tightly to roll it bigger, it fell apart.

    Najo stood up and looked over at the boys across the street. It seems easy for them to roll the snow, he thought.

    Najo started again. This time he packed the snow even tighter and after a few minutes he had one small ball. Then he shook the snow off his mittens. But inside the mittens his hands were wet from the melted snow and his arms and legs felt tired.

    Slowly Najo began rolling a second ball of snow. Again the snow just seemed to crumble. It’s not so easy to build a snowman, he decided.

    Finally, the second ball was finished. Najo lifted it up and set it on top of the first ball. It tipped slightly where the snow had broken off.

    The last ball of snow was the smallest and Najo was glad. His hands were cold and stiff and his feet were becoming cold and wet.

    Carefully Najo set the third ball of snow on top of the other two. What a funny sight you are! he thought, looking across the street at the fine, big snowman the boys had made.

    Najo looked at his snowman again and saw large holes where the snow had fallen out. It was small and not very well shaped.

    He slipped off his sombrero, walked forward, and put it on the snowman where it completely covered its head.

    “Your snowman can’t see!” called a voice from behind.

    “The hat is too big,” another voice said laughingly, “or your snowman’s head is too small!”

    Najo turned around. The four boys had just come into his yard. “I-I’ve never made a man of snow before,” Najo said softly.

    “It’s easier when someone helps you,” the tallest boy said. “But if this is your first snowman, it isn’t too bad. Where’d you get the fancy hat?”

    Najo looked at the sombrero. “I made it in the village where I used to live,” he answered.

    The boys walked around the snowman, packing more snow on it, while Najo brushed the snow from his coat.

    “I wish I had a hat like that,” the tallest boy said. “I’ve never seen one like it.”

    “I have another one in the house,” Najo added. “This is my old sombrero. Would you like to see my new one?”

    All the boys nodded.

    “Did you make the new one too?” one of the boys asked.

    “Yes,” Najo replied. “I can show you how to make one if you want me to.”

    “That would be great!” the tall boy exclaimed. “Let’s finish rebuilding your snowman, then you can show us your new hat. Okay?”

    Najo smiled. “Okay,” he agreed.

    After the boys helped Najo complete the snowman, the Indian boy ran into the house, passing his mother in the hallway.

    “Why are you in such a hurry, little one?” she asked. “It’s time you stayed in and—”

    Najo started up the steps. “Please, Mama. I have to find my new sombrero. Some friends of mine outside—”

    For a moment he stopped. “Friends” he had called the boys. Yes, they are my friends, he thought. New friends.

    Najo smiled down at his mother. “Some friends of mine are waiting outside,” he called over his shoulder as he ran to get his new sombrero.

    Illustrated by Dale Kilbourn