Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale

Julia Donaldson
Illustrator:  Axel Scheffler 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Penguin, 2006   ISBN: 0142405809

There once was a sea snail who lived on a rock near the sea. More than anything, the sea snail, who had “an itchy foot,” wanted to see the world. The other snails on the rock told the little sea snail to “Sit still! Stay put!” but the snail couldn’t bear to spend her entire life on that rock.

Being a clever creature, the snail wrote a message on her rock asking someone to give her a ride “around the world,” and not long after, a whale came along who was happy to take the snail to “far-off lands.” Off went the whale, with the snail on his tail, and together they saw icebergs, tropical islands, huge waves, and underwater caves. Seeing such wonders made the snail feel very small.

Then one day the whale accidentally got beached. If he didn’t get some help soon he would die, and the only living creature who knew of his plight was the snail. What could a tiny sea snail do to help a whale?

With its wonderful rhyming text and its delightful story about an unusual friendship, this picture book will surely resonate with young children who think that they, like the snail, are too small to make a difference. Children who long to have grand adventures in distant lands will enjoy swimming in the world’s oceans with the whale who carries a snail on his tail.