The Gruffalo ) satisfying picture book, rel"/>
 

THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Julia Donaldson, Author, Axel Scheffler, Illustrator
Julia Donaldson, Author, Axel Scheffler, Illustrator , illus. by Axel Scheffler. Dial $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2922-3
Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004

A sea snail with an "itchy foot"? This offbeat premise sets the stage for Donaldson's and Scheffler's (The Gruffalo ) satisfying picture book, relayed in a cumulative rhyme scheme that recalls "The House That Jack Built." Stuck on a rock, a tiny snail pines for adventure, until a passing gray-blue humpback whale obligingly invites her to hitch a ride on his tail. Together the oddball pair travel the "starlit sea," visiting "towering icebergs and far-off lands/ With fiery mountains and golden sands." In cleanly delineated and colorful mixed-media spreads, Scheffler depicts exotic locales full of mynah birds, monkeys and other creatures that appeal to young animal lovers. Tumbling waves and towering mountains communicate a feeling of vastness, helping readers see the world from the snail's perspective ("She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all,/ and she said to the whale, 'I feel so small ' "). But the snail proves herself big of heart when she helps her travel companion after he's distracted by speedboats and gets stranded on a beach. Writing "Save the Whale" in a "looping, curling, silvery trail" across the blackboard in a nearby schoolhouse, she sets a rescue mission into motion. Along with providing a resonant environmental message, the story lightly demonstrates that friendships come in all shapes and sizes. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)

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