A billowing green cabbage plant, a many-splendored snail shell that becomes a cracked and gaping ruin, and a startling ground-level landscape accompany a young snail's education in the perils of being overburdened, the pleasures of maintaining mobility. The story within a story is father snail's account of the snail who coveted and discovered how to make the biggest house (shell) in the world: with its large pointed bulges and bright designs it reminded butterflies of a circus, the frogs of a birthday cake; but it was too large to move when the cabbage leaves were all eaten up, and the captive snail perished. Heeding the warning, little snail takes comfort in his small house and goes forth to see the world of polka-dotted mushrooms and lacy ferns and pebbles like the eggs of a turtle dove. . . . Some of Lionni's continuing motifs (philosophical and visual) are apparent here, but the text is succinct and, most important, the paintings have less delicacy and more gaiety than anything of his since Little Blue and Little Yellow. It's a lesson that youngsters are likely to like with images they're sure to remember.