Sunday, September 17, 2023

Examining "The Abominable Snowman" from all sides in 1977

Previous Contemporary Perspectives/Raintree children's books covered on Papergreat:

Today's book...
  • Title: The Abominable Snowman
  • Author: Barbara Antonopulos. I can't find anything about her or anything else she wrote. That's a mystery we should solve.
  • Cover illustrator: Lynn Sweat
  • Interior illustrations: Nilda Scherer (that includes the one above and the one below). A 1981 article in The New York Times mentions in passing that Scherer also worked as a courtroom sketch artist.
  • Publisher: A Contemporary Perspectives Inc. (CPI) book distributed by Raintree Children's Books, Milwaukee
  • Year: 1977
  • Pages: 48
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Photo research: "All photo research for this book was provided by Roberta Guerette." 
  • Chapter titles: Monster of the Moutain; Just How Abominable Is the Snowman?; Footprints in the Snow; Hillary's Search; The Village of Beding; The Snowman's Scalp; Man or Myth?; American Relatives?
  • First sentences: A small group of men made their way slowly up the steep mountain slope. The air was still. No one spoke as they climbed. Each man thought only of the blinding white snow and the steep mountain still ahead of him. Suddenly, the men froze in terror.
  • Last sentences: If these beasts are actually living in the mountains and forests around us, hopefully one day we will be able to prove that they do exist. By studying the Abominable Snowman, we may shed new light on the way people and animals have changed since prehistoric times. At this time, however, the strange case of the Abominable Snowman remains a great, unsolved mystery.
  • Pause for comment: I think it's important to point out here that these Contemporary Perspectives/Raintree books were rarely hyperbolic or sensationalized. Yes, they were attempting to attract young readers with topics like ghosts, spooky mysteries, cryptozoology, etc. — stuff most kids are fascinated by. And it was the 1970s, when Leonard Nimoy's In Search of... was a popular TV show. But, generally, these are reasonable, thoughtful children's books that try to get young readers to think about what is and isn't credible and decide for themselves. As I included in the Visions of the Future: Magic Boards post, one librarian stated, "We found that the books represented, throughout, both sides of the issue."
  • Excerpt from the middle #1: The scalp was examined by scientists in Chicago and Paris. But they didn't believe it had once belonged to a Snowman. In Chicago they believed that the "scalp" was really the hide of a serow — a wild goat antelope.
  • Excerpt from the middle #2: Others say the Abominable Snowman is really a human being. Lamas, the religious men of Nepal, sometimes wander in the mountains by themselves. From a distance, dressed in their large hooded robes, they could be mistaken for a Snowman.
  • About the above illustration: The illustration of Mih-Teh, Thelma and Dzu-Teh shows what the Sherpas describe as three types of Yeti. The largest is Dzu-Teh, which can be up to 8 feet tall. The middle-sized one is Mih-Teh, which is the fiercest and the most dangerous to man. And the smallest is Thelma, which is about the size of a human teenager. And it turns out that "Thelma" is as incorrect as it seems. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman pointed out on Twitter earlier this year: "The editor of this book ... inserted a typo in the mix. The Teh-Ima, the Little Yeti, is a definite part of the history, not 'Thelma.'" You can read more about this on the Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.80 stars (out of 5)
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.00 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review: Matthew wrote: "This book I read when I was 9. It introduced me to the world of cryptids, ufos, and the paranormal. I've been looking everywhere for this book as I want to relive the nostalgia. Very good introduction to the abominable snowman."
  • Twitter mention #1: Folk Horror Revival (@folk_horror) calls it "a cool little book" and highlights more of the illustrations by Nilda Scherer.
  • Twitter mention #2: Richard Fay, responding to a post about favorite childhood books, wrote: "THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN by Barbara Antonopulos. Actually, the library in my grade school had a whole series of books about monsters and the unexplained. I read and re-read all of them! A while back, I ordered three of them to add to my personal library."
  • Movie moment: There are many, many movies about Yeti and Sasquatch. Most of them are low-budget films made during the 1970s that will likely never receive a Criterion release. I have not seen many movies from this genre, unless you're counting animated Christmas specials. My one recommendation, as a fan of most things Hammer, would be 1957's The Abominable Snowman, featuring Peter Cushing. And my recommendation of one to avoid would be 1977's Snowbeast. Joan and I watched it in August 2008 and, in our movie-watching journal, I wrote: "This made-for-TV flick is basically 'Jaws' with a Yeti, which we barely ever get to see. It's also 'Jaws' without a good script, good directing, good editing and good acting. But, hey, it's got Bo freaking Svenson." Why is that this 1977 children's book treated its audience with more respect than a movie made for adults in the same year? 


  1. As a kid, I devoured any books on Bigfoot/ASM. I'd check them out from our library and order them from Scholastic. I somehow missed this book. The book whose cover traumatized me was "Strange Abominable Snowmen" by Warren Smith.

    1. Wow! And I wasn't familiar with that Warren Smith book. That's a heck of a cover, and I can see why there would be some traumatizing effects. It would definitely make you think twice about plodding off into a hilly winter wonderland.

    2. Also, Warren has a pretty amazing list of works:

    3. Wow, I didn't look at his other works. That's quite a list. I'm sure I've read more than a few of them. They all look like something that would have piqued my interest as a kid.