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The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant)

The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant)

4.5 23
by Avi

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Avon the snail has never had an adventure. And adventure, he has heard, is the key to a happy life. So with his new friend Edward the ant, Avon sets out on a journey to find the excitement his life has been missing.

This modern fable is filled with funny--and profound--insights about the meaning of things . . . great and small.


Avon the snail has never had an adventure. And adventure, he has heard, is the key to a happy life. So with his new friend Edward the ant, Avon sets out on a journey to find the excitement his life has been missing.

This modern fable is filled with funny--and profound--insights about the meaning of things . . . great and small.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newbery medalist Avi (Crispin) returns to animal fantasy with this gently humorous tale about two travelers in search of excitement, an earlier version of which appeared as a beginning reader (Snail Tale: The Adventures of a Rather Small Snail, 1972). Avon the snail wants adventures like the characters he reads about in books. He sets aside caution and heads out, immediately meeting Edward, a cocksure ant who has (mostly wrong) answers for all of Avon's worries. Avi's droll wit spices the rather quiet journey, as when Edward goes to formally greet his new friend: "When he realized Avon did not have hands, he shook one of his own. `Pleased to meet you,' he said." Careful listeners will figure out the travelers' trip consists of the length of a long branch and will enjoy being in the know when Avon and Edward clearly aren't. What qualifies as excitement for this pair may not raise goose bumps on anybody else's skin-they mistake a mouse for a dragon ("good dragons disguise themselves as nice creatures, and bad dragons as nasty ones," Ant explains), and must "battle" an oncoming snail in order to pass one another on the narrow branch. But the bite-size chapters and the clever repartee make this a charming tale, and the occasional, slightly anthropomorphized pencil illustrations show Avon and Edward to be the friendliest of creatures. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Avon, a small snail, becomes convinced that because storybooks always end with the characters being happy, he needs to have an adventure to find happiness. Joined by his neighbor, an ant named Edward, Avon sets off on to find adventure. On their way, they meet a mouse that they think is a dragon, a caterpillar building a cocoon (who turns into a butterfly with no memory of being a caterpillar), and a cricket that needs a song and ends up singing silently. When Avon encounters another snail going the opposite way on a branch, it is a race to see who will win the right of way on the branch. Edward misses the crucial moment when the snails will meet, and sees only Avon and the other snail going the opposite way. When asked what happened, Avon responds, "I don't know. It all happened so quickly." That type of dry humor characterizes the entire book. Tusa's simple yet elegant black and white drawings accent the book perfectly. Edward and Avon are this generation's Frog and Toad. This book is touching without being cloying, witty without being sarcastic; Avi has created a masterpiece for all ages. 2004, Harcourt, Ages 6 up.
—Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-A charming modern fable. Avon the snail's voracious reading convinces him that having an adventure is the key to a happy life so he sets out on a journey with his new friend, Edward the ant. In a series of very short chapters, the two travel-at a snail's pace-the length of a branch, meeting another snail, a caterpillar, a worm, a cricket, a salamander, and a mouse (whom Edward and Avon are sure is a dragon in disguise). Many insights unfold: "here" and "there" are not much different; while getting lost is easy, it's finding one's self that's hard; whether rushing or going slowly, one still arrives; and it is important to look at the world with one's heart and not just with one's eyes. The book is full of plays on "beginning" and "end." Until Avon and Edward help the worm, he is unsure which is his front and which is his back, and is doomed to a life without end. When they reach the end of the branch, are they actually at the end of the sky and the beginning of the branch? Avon and Edward turn around and head back, coming to a house that looks magically like Avon's own. The friends decide to live together in this magic castle. And so, true to the book's title, the beginning of their friendship ends. Whimsical pen-and-ink sketches add much to this wise little book. It's perfect for reading and discussing.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Avon, a snail whose reading tastes run to adventure, longs for a real journey of his own. Setting out, he promptly meets his neighbor, an ant named Edward, who offers to accompany Snail on the expedition. Readers who remember the way that Mole sets out with Ratty, or the way Bilbo Baggins leaves home, or even those who remember their first adventures in the neighborhood will recognize these two for small creatures with large spirits. Their friendship is complicated by the little differences that friends discover-and cemented by shared interpretations of the bit of the world they encounter. Though they only reach the end of the branch, they meet some interesting fellow creatures, and their world grows immeasurably bigger, as many explorers and adventurers before them have discovered. Avi has reworked material from his Snail Tale (Pantheon, 1972), and the results have a charming gravity and affectionate tone. The compact, simple text is readable in a large font with great spacing; the small trim size and Tusa's graceful, whimsical black-and-white drawings suit the contents perfectly. (Fiction. 4-10)
From the Publisher

"A charming tale."--Publishers Weekly
"A story that begs to be read aloud."--Booklist

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 7.06(h) x 0.78(d)
620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one

In Which the Adventure Begins


avon, a rather small snail, read a book every day. He loved to read because books told him all about the things that creatures did when they went on adventures.

           Now, Avon had noticed that when creatures finished their adventures, and when the stories ended, the creatures were always happy. Because Avon had never had an adventure of his own, the more he read, the sadder he became. It was absolutely necessary, he decided, to have adventures for himself. Only then would he be happy.

           He sighed. “No adventures will ever come my way.”

           A newt who was passing by overheard Avon’s words. “Nay, lad, don’t say such things.”

           “But don’t you see,” said Avon, close to tears, “the most important thing in the world is having adventures. Not only have I not had any, I don’t think I ever will. And if I don’t have adventures—like the ones I’ve read about in these books—I’m bound to be unhappy forever.”

           “Then go out and seek some adventures,” said the newt.

           “I don’t know how,” Avon said.

           “Remember, lad,” said the newt, “if it’s going to be tomorrow, it might as well be today. And if it is today, it could have been yesterday. If it was yesterday, then you’re over and done with it, and can write your own book. Think about that.”

                Avon thought about it for a long moment, and then he said right out loud,

           “Yes, I will do it. Yesterday for sure!”

Text copyright © 2004 by Avi

Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Tricia Tusa

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the ­following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A charming tale."—Publishers Weekly"A story that begs to be read aloud."—Booklist

Meet the Author

AVI has written many acclaimed books for young readers, including The Secret School, The End of the Beginning, and A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End. His novel Crispin: The Cross of Lead was awarded the Newbery Medal, and Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle were named Newbery Honor books. He lives in Colorado.            

TRICIA TUSA has written and illustrated many wonderful picture books, including In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck; Mrs. Spitzer's Garden by Edith Pattou; The Magic Hat by Mem Fox; The End of the Beginning by Avi; and her own Follow Me.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

Customer Reviews

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The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A comedy that someone of any age could enjoy. An inspiring book that brings delight to the reader. Adorable and hilarious characters with bright and spirited dispositions always craving a good adventure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The End of the Beginning' is an outstanding book about two characters, named Avon 'the snail' and Edward 'the ant',who meet each other at Avon's house. Avon always wanted an adventure, so Edward offered to go with Avon on the adventure. And so the adventure began and soon they were off to discover more about themselves and meet new people along the way. You will enjoy this book if you are a reader who likes to read clever use of language and think deeply about life and possibilty. Enjoy!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a adorable book , i love it and it made me smile i would recomend this to anyone who needs a laaughbor giggle
JWeller More than 1 year ago
I checked this book out from the library for my 5 year-old niece. We haven't even finished it and I already ordered a copy for her permanent library. She and I have giggled our way through this book, and I enjoy the philosophical bent to the book. I'm ordering extras for several of my girlfriends who enjoy writing that is both funny and thoughtful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i think this book was amazing, u should totally read it! it is one of my fav books and i read it like twenty times!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books ever! I absolutely love it! I have read it about a millon times! I reccomend it for EVERYONE!!!! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book inspired me to go on great adventures
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was listed on my summer reading list and i loved it! This book was sooo cute, humerus, funny, and upside down, this is coming from a 10 year old. I definetly rate it 5 stars.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
A quote from the book that was worth reading: ..."the most important thing in the world is having adventures." Adventures are a great way to explore your world and use your imagination based upon the thinking of the snail and the ant in this tale. *Very comical. *Delightful.* Whimsical. *Fun for leisure time reading for youth ages eight to ten. *Good for adults just to laugh at the "silliness" of this tale. *Enjoyable entertainment. * Good for stress reduction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It inspired me and some of my closest friends to go out and set out for an adventure. This book has so many similaraties to what my friends and I were thinking about finding or what might be ahead. On my friends and our adventure we had spotted a lot of things that had happened with our adventure. If you are the kind of person who sits at home and bored my friends and I would definately recommend this book because it will persue and inspire you like how it persued me and friends. You could go on this adventure with some good friends like i did or by yourself althoughit is not as fun as by yourself like it is not fun to play a board game by yourself. I read this book in about 4 hours and it was the best that i would never want to put it down. I give this book an A+.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, HOWEVER I do believe it might be a 'confusing' read for the younger reader. Each chapter provides so much insight about life, it really requires a desire to read into the stories and apply the lessons to everyday life. As someone who loves the wisdom of Buddha this book was inspiring and uplifting. I plan to use it as graduation presents for the right someones....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my third grader to read. The cover was so cute and I have always enjoyed Avi's work. This story blew me away! My daughter is now in 5th grade and graduating from Elem. school. All the refrences to endings being beginnings were super. And she loves thinking of elem. school as the end of the beginning of her education. Also, the characters seem so childlike in their views of the world, but they are actually quite profound if you give it greater thought. This book is filled with symbols and metaphors. On top of that, the characters are very likeable and the illustrations are perfect for the text...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I was in 3 or 2nd grade. I was a lover of Avi. So I was looking for some books from Avi, then I stumbbled against a few books The End of the Beginning and The Beginning of the End. I grabbed the book and checked it out. I litterly fell in love. It was just so good I didn't want to put it down. I recomend this book to all ages!! It's not scary. Happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book for all ages. I love this unique story. Full of odd charecters, and odd reasoning. The ant is hilarious, and he makes absolutely no sense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I first heard it as a third grader and now, as a seventh grader, it is still one of my favorite books of all time. Although it's a quick read, Avi included humorous and adorable characters who, while somewhat childish, have great insight on the world. Overall, this is an adorable and memorable book full of life lessons and perfect for older elementary school age kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book isa great book fora yoing kid in maybe 2nd to 4th grade. I read it in 6th grade, it was a little boring. But I think it would be good for a younger kid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually love Avi's books but if you're looking to waste 30 minutes of your day I suggest watching paint dry instead of this book. It is repetitive and boring with no plot and 2-page chapters. I would buy it to torture someone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book, with my expectations very high. I thought, like every other Avi story, it would be a great piece. This book is without a plot, intresting characters, good morals, and intresting points. This book has no point and is a simple, horrible waste of time.