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SNAIL TRAIL by Jo Saxton Kirkus Star


by Jo Saxton & illustrated by Jo Saxton

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-84780-021-3
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

An affable snail tours fine-art masterpieces, inviting readers to discern which painting‘s based on him. He’s dark blue (googly eyes atop antennae), with a shell of multihued, multisized cut-felt blocks. Those colored blocks subtly change shape and position as pages turn, but the shell’s overall visual impression is steady. Each spread features one painting for comparison: Which is the snail’s likeness? About Jackson Pollock’s Number 20, the snail observes, “Here there are drips as well as drops. My picture, though, is built of blocks.” Next, Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) is “Ah, much neater, that’s for sure. But my picture’s colours aren’t mixed—they’re pure.” Henri Matisse’s collage-painting The Snail is the answer; in two rhyming couplets, Saxton neatly reveals how Matisse’s abstract piece is really a portrait. The Dalí verse scans awkwardly, but this misstep barely matters in this playful, refreshingly clear introduction of “how to look” at art. A kid-friendly Snail’s Note (with photo) depicts Matisse collaging in his wheelchair. (Picture book. 4-8)