Graeme Bases's The Legend of the Golden Snail
Book review by Isabella Thompson
A young boy on a smallish vessel finds big adventure
The award winning author and artist of such well loved books as Animalia, The Eleventh Hour, and Uno's Garden, Graeme Base delivers another colorful and visually stimulating work.
The Legend of the Golden Snail is an imaginative story that to some degree reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are in that like Max, Wilbur travels by boat and meets odd and peculiar creatures. However, Wilbur on the other hand leaves home not out of anger but with a sense of adventure.
He sets out to find an enchanted ship that interestingly enough is a snail. As legend has it, a Grand Enchanter captured the impressive beast and cast a spell upon it, forcing it to do his bidding for one hundred years…
"Snailing Ship, rise and shine,
Hoist your sails and trim them fine,
Taste once more the salty brine,
For with this spell I make you mine!"
Eventually, old and worn out, the selfish Enchanter banished the Golden Snail to an undisclosed location so that no one else could have access to it. And there it remained awaiting a new master.
Wilbur is determined to discover the Golden Snail for himself and enthusiastically sets sail. Along the way he meets some fantastical creatures, my favorite being the bush that grows beautiful butterflies. For one reason or another each creature needs his assistance. So Wilbur is faced with the decision to either help or go along his merry way leaving them to sort out their own problems.
Every decision he makes effects his entire journey. That's one of the reasons I like this book. It illuminates the quality of compassion and allows children to see the impact acts of kindness and selfless deeds have on the lives of others as well as us.
And as an added bonus, there is a snail and crossbow emblem hidden within each colorful picture for the reader to find. My four and six year olds had a great time looking for the hidden pictures while reading the story.
A surprising turn of events and an interesting twist at the end culminate into a delightful story, sure to pique the interest of future nautical explorers. I believe that The Legend of the Golden Snail would be a helpful component in the search for character building or character enhancing material for children.
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