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SNOOK ALONE by Marilyn Nelson Kirkus Star


by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2667-9
Publisher: Candlewick

“Abba Jacob was a monk who lived in a hermitage on the island in a faraway sea,” reads the opening line of Nelson and Ering’s remarkable collaboration, but readers soon discover that the monk does not lead an entirely solitary existence. Mice and rats scurry through his kitchen, and the terrier Snook’s job is to catch them “and by day to be Abba Jacob’s shadow.” The two go on a journey to catalog plant and animal species on neighboring islands, and all is well until a storm hits. Jacob calls Snook, who is off chasing rats, but “the wind snatched Abba Jacob’s voice; / the waves muted his whistle.” Heartbreaking pages depict Snook alone on the island as he fends for himself and hopefully, doggedly, awaits his beloved master’s return. The emotional effect of these spreads is rivaled only by the ultimate reunion of man and dog, culminating in their tumble-down embrace on the beach. Throughout, breathtaking multimedia paintings offset by expressive line drawings amplify the power of the image-rich, heartfelt free-verse text. Ever eschewing manipulation, it nevertheless could wring tears from stone. (Picture book. 5-10)