Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Sma

The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Sma

Illustrator:  Tricia Tusa 
For ages 8 and up
Harcourt, 2004   ISBN: 0152055320

Avon the snail has come to a very definite conclusion about how to attain happiness; there is only one thing for him to do, and that is that he must go on an adventure. So Avon sets about preparing for his departure. It is just when he is about to leave his comfortable little home that Avon meets Edward. Edward is an ant, and he is a creature with lots of opinions, ideas, and suggestions. In fact Edward is the perfect sort of companion if you are going on an adventure. Being a generous animal Edward agrees to accompany Avon.

It turns out that Edward and Avon are going to have a whole collection of adventures. Edward introduces his new friend to music, to the power of poetry, to the secrets of dragons, and to the necessity for an adventurer to participate in a battle. In his turn Avon shows the ant how important it is to do good deeds (though they might not turn out as one expects), to write letters when one is on vacation, and to accept and enjoy magical gifts when they are placed before you.

Between them these two funny and extremely likeable animals have many very philosophical discussions. They talk in circles and come up with startling, and sometimes profound, conclusions. When Avon's good deed has an unexpected finale he ruefully decides that the next time he tries to help someone, ""I'll do it better. But I guess we can't quit.""

The ant and the snail never get far and yet they make all sorts of discoveries about themselves, about life, and about the world that they live in. They meet some very odd, and very wise, animals on the way, and though they don't realize it, they end up right where they began and yet everything has changed. Their "beginning" has become their "end" and at the same time their "end" is just the "beginning."

What is so extraordinary about this unique little book is that every time one reads it one finds something new to puzzle over or wonder at. New interpretations can be made and mulled over as one enjoys the whimsical and delightful pencil drawings created by Tricia Tusa.

In the tradition of "The Little Prince" and "Pooh," Avi has created a book which will delight, and puzzle, readers of all ages and for years to come.