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The Snail and the Whale - Julia Donaldson

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Author: Julia Donaldson / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 03 September 2004 / Genre: Picture Books / Publisher: Pan Macmillan / Title: The Snail and the Whale / ISBN 13: 9780333982242 / ISBN 10: 0333982242

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      19.02.2014 08:47
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      A tiny snail travels the world on the tail of a great big humpback whale...

      We have a vast collection of Julia Donaldson books in our house as they are big favourites with both of my children. Our favourites tend to be the ones which are illustrated by Axel Scheffler - after all, you can't go wrong with such childrens' classics as 'The Gruffalo' and 'Room on the Broom'. We've had 'The Snail and The Whale' for a good few years now - it was one of the earlier books in our collection. I would say that it has never been a true favourite with my children in the way that 'The Gruffalo' was (and still is) as I certainly can't recite the whole of this book out of my head in the way that I can with that one. However, it is definitely a book which I have read on numerous occasions, first to my son and, more recently, to my daughter.

      * The Story *
      The story of 'The Snail and the Whale' is exactly what it says in the title - there is a tiny snail with a sense of wanderlust, who wants to know more about the world out beyond the dock on which she lives. She uses her trail to write a message on the rock, asking for a lift around the world. One day, a humpback whale swims into the harbour and tells the snail about a wonderful world with 'shimmering ice and coral caves, and shooting stars and enormous waves'. The snail crawls on to the tail of the whale and together they set off on their journey around the world. They visit the poles and see the penguins, they see erupting volcanoes and monkeys in rainforests, they see the sharks swimming on the coral reefs and bears on the edge of snowy mountain ranges. It is an idyllic story until, one day, the whale runs into trouble and ends up stranded on the beach. It is the tiny snail who saves the whale - crawling up to a school in the bay and writing 'Save the Whale' on the blackboard with her trail...

      * Words and Pictures *
      This is a story which is told in rhyme and, as such, is fun and easy to read. However, unlike 'The Gruffalo', there are times where the words don't flow quite as easily and the rhymes feel just that little bit forced. It is still extremely well-written, with great use of descriptive language which brings the snail and the whales journey around the world to life, but it somehow jars just a little bit. It isn't something that would put me off reading it, but it maybe is why this isn't my favourite of the Julia Donaldson books.

      Like all the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler collaborations, this book is beautifully illustrated. There is so much to look at and talk about in the pictures - things to spot (like the now traditional hidden Gruffalo!), things to capture the childrens' imagination, elements of humour - and they add a huge amount to the story. I feel that this is a good book for introducing topics such as the differences between areas of the world - the icebergs, the mountains, the tropics etc - and the fact that not everywhere is 'the same' as where we live. My little girl; absolutely loves penguins, so she loves the page where they appear on their icebergs, watching the snail and whale swimming by. My son, on the other hand, loved the drama of the big waves crashing down around them and the 'scary' sharks swimming on the reef.

      * My Thoughts *
      I do really like this book and it is one that I enjoy reading to my children. However, there is something about it that doesn't appeal to me quite as much of the others - maybe it is a bit too 'grown-up' for very young children as the whole concept of the whale being stranded on the beach can be quite distressing (even though he is saved by his friend the snail in the end). Yes, it is a heartwarming story of a tiny snail saving a giant whale (the kind of tale which is prevalent in childrens' fiction with the little underdog emerging as the hero), but I'm not sure it is really a book for pre-school children.

      It is probably a better story for the younger primary school age children - the language may be too tricky for them to read it to themselves (I know my seven year old wouldn't find it easy), but it would be a great book to provoke a variety of discussions and also to inspire some amazing artwork. It is good for raising awareness of issues such as how whales can end up stranded on beaches and the problems of humans and animals/fish sharing the same space as the whale is disorientated by the roar of jet-skis and people enjoying water-sports. It is also good, as I've mentioned previously, for introducing the concept of travel and the exploration of different countries and cultures.
      So, overall, would I recommend it? Yes but I would suggest it isn't necessarily the logical follow on to books like 'The Gruffalo', 'Monkey Puzzle' or 'Room on The Broom', i.e. when you're browsing for a book for a two or three year old, maybe this isn't the one to choose. The concepts in the book need a slightly more grown-up perspective - my daughter probably just about 'gets' it at four, but only because we have read it multiple times and I've explained about the whale lots of times... six months ago, she was still asking me why it didn't just 'swim back into the sea'.

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        15.02.2014 20:36
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        lovely read

        I am a big fan of Julia Donaldson books and love sharing them with my son at bedtime. He also enjoys them and a large number of his favourite books are penned by her - The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle and A Squash and a Squeeze to name a few. I personally think she has a lovely writing style that not only appeals to children but is easy and flowing for an adult to read. They therefore make lovely books to share. So, whenever I see a book by her that we don't have in her collection, I always pick it up. One that we purchased fairly recently is 'The Snail and The Whale'. It currently costs a bargain £1.75 on Amazon (Feb 2014).

        The book that we have is a fairly large paperback book which means that not only is it lightweight, it is good for sharing. My son can hold one side and I the other and there is plenty of room for us to both look at the pages. It is, as her books tend to be, beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler so there is always lots to look at on the pages and the size of the book easily facilitates this. The illustrations are cartoons but not too childish and there are some lovely details on there - my son especially likes looking at all the fishes in the underwater scene.

        The story is about a snail who decides that she wants to see the world but doesn't know how she can. The other snails tell her she can't and should stay put but along comes a whale who offers to give her a ride around the world. The snail rides on the whale's tail and sees lots of interesting sights. But one day, the whale lost it's way and got too close to the shore and ended up beached and can't turn back. The snail knows she must save the whale and slithers off to a local school, where she leaves a trail on the blackboard which reads 'save the whale'. The children run to the beach and help to dig the whale out and keep it wet and eventually the whale can return to the sea. The snail and the whale return to tell their tales of travel to the other snails, who then all climb aboard the whale for their own adventure.

        The text flows beautifully and is rhyming so it is very easy to read, with a nice rhythm to it. It is descriptive and really helps to paint the scene - it is great for the child's imagination. The words used are also carefully picked for the age it is aimed at - which I would say is probably in the region of 2-5 although I am sure older children would enjoy it too. My son has encountered the majority of the words used but some explanation is required - for example 'coral' and 'icebergs'. So it has helped expand his vocabulary too. I think the story is lovely too - about two friends who are perhaps an unlikely pairing but have fun together and look after one another. The story is a nice length for a bedtime story and just right for my two year old's attention span. As with all Julia Donaldson's book it is so well written that the rhyming poetry doesn't feel forced at all. It is perhaps not our favourite book of hers but it is still really very good and lovely to share - my son always listens intently and enjoys it when the whale is saved. Therefore I definitely recommend it, especially if you can get it for a bargain £1.75.

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        12.07.2013 10:44
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        The snail and the whale

        The snail and the whale is another great book by The Gruffalo author, Julia Donaldson. In the book, as you might have guessed we meet a snail and a whale who embark on a journey together. From google books we are told, "Wanting to sail beyond its rock, a tiny snail hitches a ride on a big humpback whale and then is able to help the whale when it gets stuck in the sand."

        For me this book has a lot of nice lessons about friendship, human spirit and dreams.

        I think this book teaches about friendship and how to help each other and develop a better understanding of each other. Even though a snail and a whale are perhaps not the most conventional of friends as they are completely different sizes they can still befriends and enjoy each others company so I think it teaches kids that you can be friends no matter what your differences.

        It also teaches children about following their dreams and never giving up on their ideas. In this book the snail has a dream about travelling the world and seeing lots of interesting things and does not want to stay around his rock/home with the other snails doing the same old boring thing they are doing. He doesn't give up on this dream and eventually along comes the whale to help him fulfil this dream. It says on the back of the book, "the sea snail slithered all over the rock, and gazed at the sea and the ships in the dock, and as she gazed she sniffed and sighed. The sea is deep and the world is wide! How I long to sail!" said the tiny snail."

        The book is written in a rhyming style which i find makes it really easy to read and it also helps my little girl to remember parts of it too. The illustrations are beautiful and what I like is that the animals are drawn quite true to life, as are the people so its easy to recognise them and learn about them.

        We have the large paperback version of the book, ISBN 978-0-333-98224-2 and costs £6.99 from Macmillan books.

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          10.06.2011 15:49
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          The marvellous tale of a snail with a very itchy foot who hitched a ride with a humpback whale

          The Snail and the Whale is yet another glorious adventure brought to us by Julia Donaldson, the much loved author of The Gruffalo. Beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler, this picture book is bound to bring an enormous amount of joy to young children and their parents.

          In Donaldson's usual rhythmic writing style, The Snail and the Whale tells the story of a rather endearing little snail who, sick of life on the rock with the other sea snails, hitches a lift around the world on the tail of an equally endearing humpback whale. Readers get to follow the unlikely pairing as they explore far off lands with icebergs and fiery mountains until one day disaster strikes and the whale becomes beached. Can the tiny little snail save the enormous humpback whale? Will they ever make it back to the rock to tell the other sea snails about their adventure?

          This book really is a wonderful tale that should take pride of place on the bookshelf of any young reader. As, is the case, with other books produced by Donaldson and Scheffler, there are guest appearances from other characters in their catalogue. My daughter and I spotted Tabby McTat and the monkey from Monkey Puzzle. Can you spot anymore?

          My copy of The Snail and the Whale is softback with a cover price of £5.99, although it was purchased in a Buy 1 Get 1 ½ price offer at WH Smiths. A real bargain since it is guaranteed that this book will be enjoyed time and time again.

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            05.05.2010 15:03
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            Brilliant book for children

            Another fantastic book from the team that created the Gruffalo.
            We've been reading this book to our children for a couple of years now and it's still a firm favourite. The story follows the journey of a snail who is bored with his life sitting on a rock and hitches a lift to see the world with a "Great big grey blue humpback whale". The story sees them in all parts of the world and shows them swimming around icebergs, tropical beaches and in the depths of the oceans. In this sense the book is also quite educational as on each page there are lots of things to point at and discuss with your child.
            The story has some good messages - as in the way the tiny snail manages to save the whale when he becomes beached in the bay.
            The illustrations are wonderful and go perfectly with all the rhyming text.
            As a parent I enjoy reading the book (even for the 700th time!) as there's a slight tongue twister element to the text, which stops your mind drifting and keeps you interested.
            I can see us continuing to read this book for years to come. My eldest child is 4 and shows no sign of tiring of it.
            Overall a lovely story and a great book.

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              01.03.2010 15:03
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              See review.

              After a recent visit to Waterstones (for me!) my children decided that they were not going to miss out on an opportunity like this to get something new off Daddy, I love it when his money is burning a hole in his wallet!

              After purchasing two books for my son, well buying one and getting one free as part of an ongoing "BOGOF" offer that is currently running there, the book I will now review is the "freebie", but in no means a second rate book!

              The book I will now review is - "The snail and the whale by Julia Donaldson".

              The premise of the story is how one little snail, that is residing with hundreds of others has decided he is bored just sitting and crawling around on the one particular rock that they all reside on, and want's to see the world and all the many splendours out there, this is explained as him being "the snail with the itchy foot!", which my son loved, as snails obviously don't have feet!

              After having a think he decides the best thing to do is leave a message (in his slime trail!), on the surface of the rock that a "lift is wanted around the world", then sits back to see what will happen.

              That night a huge humpback whale comes along and see's the little snails message, and decides that he could take the snail with him, hence the repeated text throughout the remainder of the book - "the snail on the tail of the whale".

              Will the snail get to see the rest of the world, and if so will it live up to his expectations?

              This is a delightful book!

              The book was always going to be fantastic due to the influence and writing f Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle etc..), the many books in her repertoire stands as a testament to her writing ability, and all the ones we have read have not disappointed, couple this with the fantastic illustrations Axel Scheffler and you are certain of not only a great read but fantastic visuals to aid the story along.

              The text is always a pleasure in these books as they are written in rhyming form, this means that as you read it almost starts to form a rhythm in your mind meaning that you find yourself almost singing the words rather than just speaking them, this means the book flows much nicer and is a joy to read.

              Ability wise I think this book would be ideal for a slightly more advanced reader to tackle, though for my son, who is only 5 years old and just starting to read, this would prove a little outside of his ability range, so in his case I class this as a bedtime book, not a starter reader.

              The illustrations are, as they are in the previously mentioned books a joy to look at, with there being plenty of detail but with the characters being just that, characters or more caricatures of animals, the snail looking like a bog standard snail until you reach it's face and see how elaborate his face is giving it a human quality.

              The scenery again is wonderful, each part of the book visiting a different location, with the whale being the guide, but at the part of the story where the whale looses his way and gets stranded it hits upon another subject that has been on the news recently enough, about whales ending up where there are not supposed to be, so me and my son could discuss this subject at length.....and we did!

              Price wise this was our freebie book from Waterstones, but brought from www.amazon.co.uk you would be able to get a copy for around the £2.99 mark plus P&P.

              Thanks for reading x

              ISBN 978-333-98224-2

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                06.01.2010 23:12
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                Snail meets whale, travel the world and then return home

                The Snail and the Whale written by Julia Donaldson and superby illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The story itself is slightly longer than some of her other books, or perhaps it just feels that way. Written in Julia Donaldson's usual rhyming style, most of the story just trips off the tongue at story time, but there are a couple of places where the rythem is lost and I find this grates as I read to my son.

                The illustrations are superb, lovely big, bright, detailed pictures that children will love and match the story line perfectly.

                The story line itself is fine, a snail struck by wander lust hitches a ride with a Humped Back Whale, sets sail over the seas, very quickly encountering and passing ice bergs, volcanoes and sharks until the whale is accidentaly beeched on dry land. The snail leaps, well slithers really, to the rescue, roping in a local class of children and emergency services to help return the whale to the water. The whale then returns the snail home where on hearing the tales of adventure lots of other snails hitch a ride.

                Simple, pleasing and interesting for Children, my three year old loves it which I guess is a better review than mine as I don't like it much at all. I can't put my finger on why, maybe it is the length, maybe it's the poor rhyming in places, I don't know, I just know it makes my teeth itch and I am glad when it's over. I don't find that with any of her other books.

                There is also a hardback copy with several inbuilt jigsaws which kept my son amused for quite some time. He likes it I don't, I can type a review and he can't so I guess its my score that is going on here.

                If you haven't read any Julia Donaldson I wouldn't start with this one, it may put you off a lovely series of books.

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                06.01.2010 14:06
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                A wonderful tale that is full of whimsy in both the prose and illustrations with a nice message

                Why this book
                *****************
                We bought this book for our son as part of his Christmas presents as we have read and enjoyed a lot of Julia Donaldson's books so thought this one would be a winner and we weren't wrong


                Who its by
                *************
                This book is written by Julia Donaldson who has a reputation as a world class writer for children and is perhaps best known for her book The Gruffalo. She has written according to her website 154 books of which 53 can be bought and the rest are designed just for schools. This book sees her teamed together again with the illustrator of The Gruffalo Axel Scheffler.

                The book has won the following awards the 2004 Early Years award for the best pre-school book, the 2005 Blue Peter award for Best Book to Read Aloud, and the 2007 Giverny award for Best Science Picture Book.


                The story
                **************
                This book tells the tale of a tiny mollusk that longs to see the world. She hitches a ride aboard a humpback whale. After seeing far-off islands, underwater caves, and storm-filled skies, the snail feels impossibly small--until the whale is beached in a harbor, and she saves the day by writing a note on the blackboard of a nearby school to summon help to save the whale.


                Opinion
                *************
                This has become a firm favorite for a bed time read in our house since we got it and our son has just loved to cuddle up and read the book with either myself or my husband. I think this is the case for the following reasons.

                The rhyming verses just flow beautifully, holding my sons attention as well as mine. The words have a wonderful poetic language to them and sound very melodic when read out loud. Though you have to be careful not to rush it or it can end up sounding a bit like a tongue twister. The words also have whimsical quality to them and show a great degree of humor at times. I have yet to tire of reading this out loud to him.

                I think though if a child was trying to read this book themselves it may be a little hard to do, not because of the words but because of the type print it is really small. Now I am uncertain if this is just in the board book version and if you bought the paper book version they maybe larger but it is something to consider.

                Scheffler's illustrations beautifully capture the essence of the words with descriptions such as the fishes' "feathery fins" and sharks' "hideous toothy grins" translating into images that bring these words even more to life on the page. The illustrations also seize my son's imagination as he points out the parrot, the turtle, dolphin, grizzly, bald eagle, speed boats, seagull, lighthouse, volcano, monkey, some of which in the couple of weeks we have been reading this book he has now added to his vocabulary. The illustrations are what are described as flat meaning that they sit there on the page and are not trying to be three dimensional. But the word flat just seems wrong to be used to describe such whimsical images that do in fact seem to be full of life. I love the fact that in one of the pictures the children are drawing in the sand a picture of the gruffallo and it is this attention to detail that means this book is just a superb quality.


                Learning points and education value
                ********************************
                This book teaches how even if you're different you can get along and help one another. It also teaches that it doesn't matter what size you are, you can make a difference and help people bigger than you. I think this is a really nice message to give to young children so that they can help big people too such as brother's sisters and mums and dads.

                There is an also an ecological message in the book about the impact on humans on animals with the whale getting lost due to the speedboats. Though this probably goes over my two year olds head it is still a message I think is becoming increasingly important for people to become aware of. This book pitches it just right in that the concern for the whale is foremost thought and it's not done in a "preachy" manner.

                This book I think will also encourage children older who than my son to think about things such as friendship, following your dreams, the impact of humans on marine life and problem solving.


                Overall
                ***********
                This is a wonderful story for children and adults to enjoy. I can think of no finer introduction to the concept of relating words to images than this work of Donaldson and Scheffler's. Though I'm sure my son does not yet understand the morals of the story, the beautiful illustrations give us plenty to look at and talk about.
                As my son is still a toddler we bought the board book version of this story so it could cope with the rough and tumble of toddler page turning.


                Book details
                ***************
                Board book: 32 pages
                Publisher: Campbell Books; New edition edition (4 Aug 2006)
                Language English
                ISBN-10: 1405054255
                ISBN-13: 978-1405054256

                The board book version currently sells on Amazon for £4.19

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                  02.10.2009 12:47
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                  4 stars

                  After reading Gruffalo and absolutely loving it (my daughter quite likes it too!!), we have continued to try and find the other books written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. As I'm sure most would agree who have read it, that they are entertaining to read.

                  As parents with children who love Gruffalo and other stories by Donaldson will know, the flow of the words and rhyming sentences make the lighthearted storylines a pleasure to read. The illustrations are fantastic too, and with such a perfect combination they make bedtime just that little bit easier.

                  This story centres on a snail and a whale (who would have thought given the title!), who decide to team up and sail around the world. It's quite repetitive, with similar sentances all the way through which makes it easy for little ones to understand and enjoy the book.

                  It describes different scenes around the world, such as volcanic islands and 'far-off lands with icebergs'. I also liked the book as it seems to touch slightly on what animals may be frightened by, for example on one page, the whale gets scared by 'speedboats, running a race, zigging and zooming all over the place'.

                  There are lots of lovely sentences flowing very easily such as 'This is the whale who came one night, when the tide was high and the stars were bright. A humpback whale, immensley long, who sang to the world a wonderful song.' The book is a pleasure to read, although with such a fantastic choice from Donaldson and Scheffler, this one is not actually my favourite (but it's still very good and the kids love it!).

                  Others that I can recommend by the pair are Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo.

                  Julia Donaldson has her own website at www.juliadonaldson.co.uk.

                  The Snail and the Whale has an RRP of £5.99 but you can pick it up from Amazon for £2.76 (includes delivery). This is for the large paperback, but this is also available in a board book which is a lot easier to keep in good condition with pawwing little hands!

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                    27.09.2009 01:30
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                    No child's bookshelf should be without this wonderful little tale

                    "The Snail and the Whale" is one of 8 wonderful picture books for children by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the most famous of which are probably "The Gruffalo" and "The Gruffalo's Child."


                    The book is published byMacmillan as an oversized, soft back book. On the front cover is a picture of the whale with one beady eye catching a sneaky look at you as it happily blows water through it's blow hole. The snail is sitting on the corner of the whale's tail. The scale is good, giving children immediately a good idea of the enormity of the whale and the vulnerability of the snail, yet the snail still has facial, cheeky features as do all the other small animals in the picture. This gives us a taste of the detail the book goes into in both language and pictutes.


                    The story is of a snail with an itchy foot! She sees that the sea is deep and the world is wide, and she longs to see it all rather than just the black rock, in a dock, that she and his friends sit on. You can see already that there are many opportunities for rhymes here, and Donaldson doesn't ever miss one. The snail writes a message on the rock using his own silvery trail, saying that he requires a lift around the world. The looped and curly snail trail of "Lift wanted around the world" on the rock, is brilliantly fitted into the text. The snail hitches a lift on the tail of a giant humpback whale. The unlikely pair travel to far off lands, they see icebergs, volcanic islands, they go under the sea and see fish, they play in the waves, they look at sunny skies and then thundery skies, but then one day the whale loses his way and having been unsettled by speedboats, swims too close to the shore and becomes beached. The snail saves the day by crawling to a school and writing a message with it's trail, on the school blackboard. The children, the villagers and all their emergency services manage to save the whale, and the pair eventually swim back to their original dock. They tell their story to all the other snails who then decide that they are all going on the whale's tail for his next trip.


                    I hope that didn't spoil things for anyone - it is a children's book, not an adult thriller, so I don't think I can be accused of giving the game away. The book has so much more to it than just a story.


                    This is beautifully written. It is impossible to read this book too quickly. There is a wonderful rhythm to the language used. It's almost hypnotic and works fantastically well as a bedtime story, not only for the child but in de-stressing a parent after a long day. "Shimmering ice and coral caves, shooting stars and enormous waves" are all to be found on the pair's extraordinary adventure around the world.


                    As well as including the snail's silvery trail of messages in the text, as the snail "gazed and gazed, amazed by it all, she said to the whale, "I feel so small,"", and the text goes small for the word "small." When the whale is beached in the bay, he says to the snail, "I can't move on land, I'm too BIG".


                    Something that is so clever about this book is that it has appeal and educational value for such a wide age range. As well as being a good bedtime story with a comfortable, sleepy quality to the what is essentially verse, every page has something interesting for the younger child, whether it's volcanic islands with monkeys and turtles or arctic seas with penguins and seals. Shipyards with lighthouses and cranes or the rescue scene with helicopters and diggers. It's a story about wildlife, geography, rescue, conservation, relationships and trust.


                    As well as being exquisitally written, Axel Scheffer's illustrations make this book an absolute treasure. The pictures can be studied over and over yet there is always something new to see. As a child is just starting to get an excited enthusiasm for language, it is so much fun looking for new things in the pictures. How many boats are in the dock? Can you see a cat? What has the tide washed up? How many seagulls do you see. And many more things - just on the first page.


                    Then to look in even more detail - there are 21 snails on page 2, each with a different expression and personality. 19 penguins in another picture, some sliding along on their tummies, some diving into the water, some looking like they are auditioning for a chocolate bar advert.............


                    For older children, there is the question of polution and upsetting wildlife as we see human beings' recreational activities in speed boats and jet skis dangerously interfering with nature. They can also look deeper into studying the areas in the world the snail and the whale visit along with the animals they meet on their travels.


                    This book is an absolute "must have" for any child. It is quite simply a wonderful addition to any child's library and should be treasured and kept for life. An enormous amount of talent and creativity has gone into a book which costs a mere £3.59. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler deserve to sell millions.


                    I have 2 copies - 1 for upstairs, 1 for downstairs!

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                      04.09.2009 14:34
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                      A great picture book about the bravery of a tiny snail!

                      The Snail and the Whale is a lovely picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. This is actually one of my favourites to read to younger children. It is written in rhyming couplets and develops a very steady rhythm, making it a real pleasure to read. The only drawback is that with younger children, there are so many interruptions that you just can't get your flow sometimes!

                      The Story
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                      The book is about a little sea snail who wants to explore the world. She leaves a message on a big black rock by writing "Lift wanted around the world" in her silvery trail. A big humpback whale sees the message and carries the little snail off to strange and interesting places.

                      The book follows their adventure until one day the little snail actually has to save the life of the big whale. The snail and the whale have each helped out the other and travel back to the snail's rock to take all of the other little snails around the world with them.

                      It is a very simple story which does not go into the snail and the whale's adventures in any great depth, but carries you along with the story at a nice pace.

                      There are many themes that can be explored in this book. For example, the tiny snail saves the life of a huge whale - this can become a discussion on the importance of every individual. The snail is just as powerful as the whale, despite the difference in size. It can also be used to look at environmental issues. The reason that the whale becomes beached is because of speedboats and the terrible noise from them. Children can explore how whales actually navigate and what human presence in their habitat can do to them. These are just two of many different themes which can be pulled from this book.


                      Language
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                      I absolutely love the language used in this book. It is simple enough for young children to understand, and yet beautiful enough to conjure up vivid images. Donaldson talks about "Shimmering ice and coral caves" which makes the reader think of something magical and other worldly. She uses phrases like this a lot in the book. Each one brings a new image to the imagination.

                      Children can learn to love language and they tend to enjoy sounds in language. I think it is particularly clever of Donaldson to use alliteration - "The sea snail slithered" - to create the desired effect, the repetition of the "S" sound implies slithering. "Zigging and zooming" shows the hard, abrasive sound that the speed boats are making. Children tend to enjoy thing and when asked to make a slithering or zooming sound they will comply very readily!

                      The language in this book can help to build an enjoyment for sounds and language in young children.


                      Rhyme and Rhythm
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                      The book is written in rhyming couplets for the most part. The rhymes are usually simple and easy to hear which is useful as children can often begin to predict which word will come next. This prediction will help to build language skills and increase vocabulary. They also seem to enjoy it as the usually get the word correct, giving them a real sense of achievement.

                      The two most common rhyming words are, unsurprisingly, snail and whale. Parts of the book are actually difficult to say fast, you end up saying snea snail and things like that!

                      The book has a wonderful rhythm which keeps the pace up and the story always moving forward. It is a very easy rhythm to read and very comfortable to listen to. The children can easily fall into the rhythm themselves, making the book feel comfortable and familiar. And on reading it again, it feels very familiar as the repetitive rhythm has been heard so many times before.


                      Illustrations
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                      Scheffler's illustrations are brilliant! They are very cartoony and quite scratchy. They actually contain a lot of humour. The expressions on some of the animal's faces are hilarious! There is a seal in the book who looks like the most worried animal on the planet! There are also nine snails on the black rock and each one has a slightly different expression. I had a laugh with a P4 class as each pupil chose a snail and described his character, did his voice, talked about his relationship to the other snails etc. It was just a little impromptu discussion which turned into an excellent language exercise!

                      The illustrations are of many different animals from different habitats. Each page or double page shows a difference scene, so on one page we see penguins and icebergs and on the next there is a jungle with a monkey and a tortoise. One of the pages shows the snail and the whale under the water with various sea creatures which could all be pointed out and named.

                      There is much to discuss in the illustrations of this book. Many of the pages are very busy with lots of things going on at the same time. This makes the book a very rich experience for children as they hear the wonderful language and rhyme and can also look at the images and discover something new each time.

                      There is also some environmental print in the book which links the story with the illustrations even more closely. The snail writes on a rock and a blackboard and instead of this being described in the text, it is actually illustrated and it looks wonderful!

                      The last double page shows the whale sailing off in the sunset with a tail full of snails. The kids had much discussion about which snail was OUR snail. They decided it was the one with the biggest eyes because it was the most important character. I tend to agree.


                      Conclusion
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                      I love this book; it is one of my favourites to read with a class. I live right on the river Clyde and every school in the area has strong links to the Clyde. This book always seems to start discussions about our own river. There are illustrations of a dock with large ships and litter strewn on the rocks. This always seems to prompt discussions about how we can care for our part of the river. Many of the P4 kids wanted to head right down to the beach and start cleaning up so that if a whale (and a snail) ever turned up, the water would be nice and clean for them. I love that this book brings out that concern for our environment.

                      This book is good fun and can be used to highlight a surprising variety of issues. The language and the rhyme and metre of the story all draw in the adult and the children. It is so incredibly enjoyable to read and I highly recommend it. It is most suited to children from 4 to 8 years. Older children may enjoy reading it to younger siblings as the rhythm is easy to get into. The illustrations can inspire a multitude of art activities either in class or at home.

                      If you have children who love stories, I would highly recommend it. It's enjoyable for adults too!

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                        14.06.2009 14:12
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                        This is the tail of a tiny snail & a great big grey-blue humpback whale...

                        Having loved books when I was a child, I am determined to get my son into reading also. Okay, so he's only 4 months old, but I already have quite a collection of books for him to grow into.

                        The Gruffalo was one of my first purchases, then on the back of this I bought 'The Snail and the Whale', which is also written by Julia Donaldson & illustrated by Axel Scheffler. I had heard good reviews about the book, but what really swayed me was finding the book in a half price closing down sale at my local bookstore.

                        I bought the boardbook version (RRP £5.99, mine for £2.99). It's 32 'pages' long if you count both sides & include the covers (or 16 'boards' if you prefer). The illustrations grab your attention immediately. The detail & colours are wonderful. Perhaps not colourful enough for a young baby, but my son seems mesmerised when I read it to him (yes, I'm already reading to him to give him an ear for language - I don't think you can start too early with these things!).

                        The story is of a tiny sea snail who longs to travel the world. One day he hitches a ride with a hump-back whale & together they travel the seas visiting far off coastlines. Unfortunately the whale swims too close to a populated tourist spot & is upset by the commotion of speedboats, causing him to swim too close to the shore & become beached. As the tide slips away (sob!), the tiny snail knows he must do something to save his friend. He manages to crawl to a nearby school (OK, so the whale would be dead by now...!) & leaves a message on the blackboard with his gooey trail for the children to save the whale. The children run to the whales rescue & douse him with water until the tide comes in & he is free (hurrah!). The whale then takes the snail home, where all his friends & family join him & the whale for more sightseeing adventures....

                        A wonderful book, beautifully written & with gorgeous illustrations. Perhaps not as 'simple' to read as other board books (the writing is on the small side), but a lovely book to read aloud. (Hence being awarded the Blue Peter Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud 2005).

                        (Also published on ciao under the same name).

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                          15.11.2008 23:15
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                          Enjoyable to read aloud.

                          The Snale and the Whale is a lovely story of a large whale who takes a small snail on a round the world trip!

                          It is a paperback book written by Julia Danaldson (of The Gruffalo fame) and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (also illustrated The Gruffalo). It's RRP is £5.99 but we got it from Waterstones on a buy one get one free offer and I am sure Amazon sell it cheaper.

                          The story is written in the lovely to read and lovely to here rhyme that trips of the tongue to make it a pleasure to read alloud.

                          It starts with a snail with an itchy foot who wants to see the world befond his black rock. So he writes a message on the black rock in his silvery trail. A whale comes to answer the request and the snail hops on to his tail. They explore the icebergs, volcanoes and the deep sea before the whale gets confused and ends up beached. The snail figures out a way to help and the local school children and firemen free the whale who takes the snail back to his rock and after hearing what a great time the snail had the other snails who live on the rock go on the whales tail.

                          The book was first published in 2003 and the edition that we have was printed in 2004 and it is published by Macmillan.

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                          08.08.2008 16:59
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                          Good read for kids

                          This a really nice book. We've had it in my daughter's collection since she was only a few months old. However, I would not recommend it for young babies, as although the illustrations are lovely and very detailed, they are not eyecatching enough for a small baby and this didn't interest my daughter until fairly recently, I'd say when she was about 15 or 16 months. She now loves to hear the story and look at the pictures at the same time.

                          The story is a tale of a tiny sea snail who wants to travel the world and see new things, and a grey-blue humpback whale kindly obliges and lets the little snail travel on his tail, and she sees things she'd never dreamed of. There is also a lesson to be learned from the story as the whale gets beached and its up to the tiny snail to save the day, which of course she does - so it shows that no matter how small you are, you can make a diference!

                          I think the text is wonderful, the way that sometimes so many of the words rhyme in one sentence - 'this is the trail of the tiny snail, a silvery trail saying save the whale'... and ... 'back to the dock and the flock on the rock'. I just love it and it really is a pleasure to read, and once you've read it a few times you get into a sort of rhythm with the words and it's another one of those books that I just don't mind reading over and over again.

                          I would thoroughly recommend this book to someone who has a toddler or even children at school as I think it is suitable for older children as well. Perhaps it is not as well known as the Gruffalo or Gruffalo's Child (by the same author) but I think it deserves as much credit.

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                            20.06.2008 11:18
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                            Childrens book

                            As say the opening lines of this wonderful book: This is the tale of a tiny snail. And a great big, grey-blue humpback whale......

                            I think most people are aware of the Gruffalo, especially those with children, but for those who need a little introduction, The Gruffalo is the book which shot Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to fame back in March 1999. Julia's beautiful, flowing words were accompanied by Axels stunning, colourful and exciting illustrations. After reading The Gruffalo (a few million times, I can recite it word for word) I didn't honestly believe I would find my son a book that would captivate him as much. Since then we have read the Gruffalo's Child and Monkey Puzzle. Both of which are wonderful, but, for me, The Snail & The Whale has clinched it.

                            In this story, a brave little snail, very aware of his smallness, embarks on an adventure with a friendly, gentle whale. With each page you visit scary, beautiful, cold & sunny far off lands, until one day, the unthinkable happens, and the little snail must overcome his insecurities to help his friend.

                            Julia writes with a lovely rhyming verse, it amazes me how she manages such descriptive story telling whilst keeping the story in order. There is always a little kind of 'twist' with her stories, some kind of moral to learn, this books being that size doesn't determine greatness and also to follow your dreams. Sounds deep for a childrens book doesn't it? (Remember, this an 'old romantic' adult viewpoint!). But believe me, your child will be enthralled by the rhyming and repetative text and will want it to be read night after night.

                            The pictures are gorgeous, our book is a fairly large paperback, wider than A4 but not quite as long. The front cover, as you can see from the picture above, shows the stars of the story in a very tropical setting. There are thirty pages, which sounds like a lot for a child, but each page has a large picture which clearly corresponds to the text. Amazingly, Julia & Axel work seperately, she lives in Glasgow, he in London. The pictures have so much detail and will keep children below reading age busy for quite a while and for children learning to read, the fun, rhyming style will keep the interest up. Also a lot of the words are used repeatedly, i.e. snail, small, tail, tiny, whale, which I have been told promotes good reading skills.

                            Here is a list of the books which Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffer have made together:

                            Tales from Acorn Wood, Postman Bear
                            Tales from Acorn Wood, Rabbits Nap
                            A Squash & a Squeeze,
                            The Gruffalo
                            The Gruffalo Child
                            Room on the Broom
                            Charlie Cooks Favourite Book
                            The Smartest Giant in Town
                            Monkey Puzzle
                            Tiddler

                            I think it's worth pointing out that Julia & Axel have both created many books seperately too, details of which can be found on the websites listed below. I've yet to read any of these, but I have seen some of Julia's books are part of the Oxford Reading Tree, which is helpful when your child is learning to read.

                            I was very lucky, The Snail and the Whale was included in a pack I purchased from The Book People - 10 books for £10, so was extremely good value. The RRP on the back of the book is £5.99. We have noticed these books in WH Smiths, in a big jigsaw version and a copy with a CD included, but I'm not sure of the prices.

                            I would definitely recommend this book, or infact, any of the collection. A happy, healthy imagination & a love of good books is a wonderful thing to give a child, especially in the hard world we live in at the moment.

                            Some helpful web addresses:
                            www.juliadonaldson.co.uk
                            www.imagesofdelight.com
                            www.whsmith. co.uk
                            www.thebookpeople.co.uk

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