The Legend of the Golden Snail


by Graeme Base


Abrams Books for Young Readers


Reader Appeal: All ages


Genre: Picture Book


PopFam Rating: A


The mind of author/illustrator Graeme Base is a wonder to behold. Anyone who has seen/read/spent-days-solving-puzzle-and-clues-in his masterpiece, The Eleventh Hour knows that. His newest picture book, The Legend of the Golden Snail, is nowhere near as complicated and mysterious as that one, but is a delight nonetheless.


Presented in oversize format this arresting fantasy follows the exploits of a young boy named Wilbur. This boy's favorite storybook is a mythical classic of The Legend of the Golden Snail, a rollicking seven-seas adventure featuring an evil Grand Enchanter and a giant snail magically enslaved as a shipping vessel for the master wizard. (As a bonus for the reader, the "classic" woodcut story is included in miniaturized version at the beginning of Base's book--fun!).


When the Grand Enchanter finally tired of life, he banished the Golden Snail ship to the ends of the earth where, the legend proclaims, it waits to be claimed by a new Grand Enchanter. Finally, Wilbur decides to take on the mantle of Grand Enchanter, to sail to the ends of the earth, and to claim the Golden Snail as his own. With his mother's blessing (and the Captain's hat she made for him), Wilbur and his cat begin their adventure.


Along the way to the ends of the earth, they encounter monstrous sea creatures, a motley crew of pirates, Dreadful Doldrums, and more before finally finding the spectacular Golden Snail. A surprise ending awaits the reader (and no, we won't spoil it here), but it is a warm, encouraging ending to the tale.


Of course, as with any Graeme Base book, the visual images practically leap straight from the imagination and onto the page where they liven the mind with bright colors and inspiring detail. It would be worth the price of this book simply to thumb through the pages and take in the breathtaking sights. (In fact, if there's a preschooler nearby, you might just want to do that before you actually read the story!) While you're at it, see if you can spot the hidden snail-n-crossbones on every page. If you find them, you can access extra content on a website dedicated to the book.


In all, The Legend of the Golden Snail is a joy to experience, ready-made to share with a child. Easily recommended.




Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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