Five busy chapters introduce a reticent snail to the glories of a garden.
Peterson is no stranger to illustrating books about gardens and nature (Dig In!, 2016, etc.). Her first outing as both author and illustrator relies on cute critters rather than natural science. Snail, with bug eyes and an expressive, mostly smiling face, is encouraged to explore by his best friend, adventurous Ladybug. Gopher and Rabbit have speaking parts, while Squirrel and Bluebird play supporting roles. Although no specific reading level is identified, the new Aladdin PIX imprint targets reluctant readers ages 6 through 9 with sophisticated vocabulary. Snail is shown “ruminating” and “pondering.” Short sentences, clear clues in the pictures, and varied typefaces keep the story accessible. The narrative is set in Archer, a friendly-looking serif type. Dialogue appears in squared-off speech bubbles. An all-uppercase blue display type is used for informational and descriptive words that are not part of the basic plotline. The center spread is a garden map. The story is slight; information embedded in the story is even slighter. The plot premise—that a snail would hesitate to venture out of a bucket—is just silly fun, but kids will relate to his hesitation to try new foods.
Not as natural as Frog and Toad's clever repartee but a good purchase for children not quite ready for books without pictures but ready for chapters. (Early reader. 6-9)