Julia Donaldson lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
A sea snail with an "itchy foot"? This offbeat premise sets the stage for Donaldson's and Scheffler's (The Gruffalo) satisfying picture book, relayed in a cumulative rhyme scheme that recalls "The House That Jack Built." Stuck on a rock, a tiny snail pines for adventure, until a passing gray-blue humpback whale obligingly invites her to hitch a ride on his tail. Together the oddball pair travel the "starlit sea," visiting "towering icebergs and far-off lands/ With fiery mountains and golden sands." In cleanly delineated and colorful mixed-media spreads, Scheffler depicts exotic locales full of mynah birds, monkeys and other creatures that appeal to young animal lovers. Tumbling waves and towering mountains communicate a feeling of vastness, helping readers see the world from the snail's perspective ("She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all,/ and she said to the whale, `I feel so small' "). But the snail proves herself big of heart when she helps her travel companion after he's distracted by speedboats and gets stranded on a beach. Writing "Save the Whale" in a "looping, curling, silvery trail" across the blackboard in a nearby schoolhouse, she sets a rescue mission into motion. Along with providing a resonant environmental message, the story lightly demonstrates that friendships come in all shapes and sizes. Ages 4-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PreS-Gr 3-A tiny mollusk that longs to see the world hitches a ride aboard a humpback whale in this charming picture book. 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. The message that even the smallest among us can help others will not be lost on children, and neither will the poetic language: "A humpback whale, immensely long,/Who sang to the snail a wonderful song/Of shimmering ice and coral caves/And shooting stars and enormous waves." Donaldson's smooth, sprightly rhyming scheme buoys the story and never falters. The flat, cartoonish look of Scheffler's multimedia illustrations perfectly complements the tone of the text. The rollicking language and bright pictures make this a great choice for reading aloud.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Along with providing a resonant environmental message, the story lightly demonstrates that friendships come in all shapes and sizes."--Publishers Weekly, starred review