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Book Review - The Snail and the Whale

Book Review - The Snail and the Whale

Book Review – The Snail and the Whale


The Snail and the Whale, a publication by Macmillan’s Children’s Books, is a gorgeous tale written by the inimitable Julia Donaldson, and illustrated by the equally brilliant Axel Scheffler.


What the book is about 

A tiny Snail is bitten by the travel bug and wants to go around the world and hitches a lift from the gigantic grey-blue humpback Whale. The humpback Whale takes the Snail on a momentous journey around the world, and the Snail is gob smacked by the fact that the world is so HUGE, making him feel so small and insignificant. But, little does the Snail know that, even though he is so tiny, he can still help save the life of his BIG friend, the Whale when the Whale befalls the misfortune of getting beached one day.


What we loved about the book 

  • This book, from the Julia Donaldson – Axel Scheffler partnership, about the unusual friendship between a tiny Snail and the gargantuan grey blue humpback Whale is winsome in its use of rhyme (He held it out of the starlit sea and said to the Whale, “Come sail with me.”) and alliterations (example - great big grey blue) to narrate the tale.
  • The Snail in the story is constantly admonished by his flock to stay put, but he stands up for himself and undertakes the journey on his own with the help of the Whale. When the Whale is beached, and the Snail sets out to help him, you can see how the teacher also keeps restricting her students and let the unsaid connection between the flock and the teacher be made by your child.
  • The story teaches kindness and empathy to kids, while letting kids know that their size does not matter when it comes to helping others, because it is the Snail and the children at a school on the bay that are eventually instrumental in rescuing the Whale when he is beached.
  • The Snail’s ingenuity in writing on the rock to hitch the lift and on the board to alert the villagers to the plight of the beached Whale needs to be applauded as does the writer’s imagination!
  • Special mention to the illustrations that aptly and gorgeously capture the various sights around the world and the expressions of the Snails and the villagers in a very beautiful manner.
  • The book touches upon the environmental disaster of the Whale’s beaching, while rightly implicating the careless and loud humans who use their jet skis, ending up distracting the Whale. It is a good point to discuss the endangerment of species due to man’s actions with your child and inculcate environmental awareness from a young age.
  • The story ends with the Snail and the Whale going back to the flock of Snails on the rock, who also accompany the Snail and the Whale on yet another adventure. 


Publisher Recommended Age – 6+ for readers, but can be read aloud to your 3 year old.


Read this lovely book to your child for them to know that even little people can be big helpers and that size is immaterial to your abilities!


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