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THE SNAIL HOUSE by Allan Ahlberg Kirkus Star


by Allan Ahlberg & illustrated by Gillian Tyler

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-0711-8
Publisher: Candlewick

This homespun tale, heard at Grandma's knee, will transport readers just as it does her young listeners. As the story goes, one day three children shrink until they're tiny enough to slip beneath the door. Out in the towering garden they discover a spiral-shaped house atop a snail: " 'And it was a proper house too, with a door and windows, roof and chimney, table, chairs, three little beds, curtains, and crockery—everything!' ” Displaying an exquisite eye for natural detail viewed from an inch above ground level, Tyler follows the diminutive travelers through a wonderland of wildflowers, grassy clumps, and berry bushes, past inquisitive looking insects and, among other adventures, near-disastrous encounters with a falling apple, a thrush, and a dandelion thistle—all in miniature. Their outward journey ends at a stream's edge; after a wordless spread spent contemplating the rushing water they make a quick return to a more conventional home and size. The author and illustrator both keep the boundaries between the real world and that of the imagination distinct but easily bridgeable, and the children's experiences always seem more exhilarating than perilous. (Picture book. 5-8)