Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base
Puffin, 2010. ISBN 9780670073498.
(Ages: 4-8) Highly recommended. Wilbur is enchanted by a story about a Golden Snail, which takes the shape of a golden galleon when it sails through the Magical Realm. One day it is captured by a Grand Enchanter, who forces it to obey his commands. After sailing it for a 100 years, the Enchanter banishes it to the ends of the earth until a new master comes to claim it. Wilbur decides to find the Golden Snail and he and his faithful cat set off on sailboat, finding some creatures that need rescuing on the way.
Like all good fairy tales, there is a moral to the story. Wilbur sees creatures in distress and instead of leaving them in their misery, he helps them on their way. He waters a butterfly bush that is wilting, releases a crab from a net, and stops earwig pirates from stealing light bulbs from lantern fish. In turn, when Wilbur gets into trouble, these creatures come to his aid.
The language is beautiful, full of alliterations and stunning images. It is a lovely book to read aloud, stimulating the imagination and leaving behind haunting thoughts of good and evil.
The artwork is striking, with beautiful bold pictures, and gorgeous greens, blues and golds. I particularly loved the picture of the 'newly blossomed butterflies' bringing back the wind when Wilbur's boat drifts into the Dreadful Doldrums.
With extras in the book, like a small additional book attached in the front page, and a picture of a snail and crossbones on every page for the curious to find, as well as instructions to go to Base's website, this book will delight children and adults everywhere. It is a keeper!