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Snail Boy


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About the Author

Leslie McGuirk is an internationally recognized artist and the founder of McGuirk's Quirks Design Studio, Leslie McGuirk is the author/illustrator of the Pip the Penguin series. She lives in Florida. Find out more about her on her website:


Snail is "a Gigantic Exotic Gastropod in full bloom." He resembles a cartoon dinosaur, albeit with pale gray skin and a pastel blue-and-green shell. Furthermore, Snail is "as big as a pony," but by his own reckoning he's "better looking, and much more interesting." Because of his enormous size and lack of speed, Snail worries that a cruel Snail Hunter will put him in a cage or, worse, a French restaurant. He goes in search of a child who can be his owner, and sets his mind on a skateboarding boy: " `I'll ask him,' said Snail, `because he's alone, like me.' " The boy is startled and skeptical at first, but Snail wins him over by giving him a ride and doing tricks ("I think talking is my best trick of all, though, don't you?" Snail asks politely). When it rains, Snail invites the boy under the cover of his shell, thus proving an eminently practical pet. McGuirk (Tucker Flips) relies on understatement to tell this absurdist tale; if not for his power of speech and his species, Snail would be no more exotic than an oafish Labrador retriever. The author's na?ve ink-line drawings float in empty, undecorated fields of opaque color, and the tall pages appear too spacious for such simple contents. McGuirk's ingenuous characters and illustrations recall the quirky comedy of Neal Layton, while her amiable plot, in which an unusual animal yearns to become a pet, echoes last fall's more poignant That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child. Ages 3-7. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

PreS-Gr 2-This zany story describes the plight of a homeless "Gigantic Exotic Gastropod"-in other words, a huge snail. The mollusk, which is as big as a pony, worries that he will be captured by a Snail Hunter or meet an equally disagreeable fate. So, to escape any number of dismal ends, he decides he must find himself a protector in the form of a pet owner. He chooses a boy from the park who appeals to him, but the child is not in the market for a pet and Snail must do quite a bit of convincing. The true charm of the story lies in the jovial banter between the two, resulting in what appears to be a lasting partnership. The naive look of the illustrations, done in ink and gouache, and use of color are somewhat reminiscent of 1960s pop-art styles. In fact, the Snail Hunter resembles one of the Meanie characters from the Beatles's The Yellow Submarine movie. Both the unconventional story line and the colorful artwork will appeal to youngsters.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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