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Snook Alone

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Overview

A faithful little dog must survive on his own in the wild in this evocative tale of loss and reunion from acclaimed poet Marilyn Nelson and the inimitable Timothy Basil Ering.

Abba Jacob is a monk who lives on a far, far away island with his loyal rat terrier, Snook. Every day, from the wee hours of dawn till the sun sets over the sea, Snook keeps Abba Jacob company as he prays or works, tending the gardens or fixing the plumbing of the little hermitage he calls home. But when ...

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Overview

A faithful little dog must survive on his own in the wild in this evocative tale of loss and reunion from acclaimed poet Marilyn Nelson and the inimitable Timothy Basil Ering.

Abba Jacob is a monk who lives on a far, far away island with his loyal rat terrier, Snook. Every day, from the wee hours of dawn till the sun sets over the sea, Snook keeps Abba Jacob company as he prays or works, tending the gardens or fixing the plumbing of the little hermitage he calls home. But when the two are separated by a ferocious storm, Snook must learn to fend for himself in the wild, all alone in a world of fierceness and wonder. Will he ever again hear the loving voice that he waits for? Simply and lyrically told by award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson and beautifully illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering with wit, warmth, and affection for the natural world, this captivating tale of friendship lost and found conveys the power of faith against all odds.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nelson (Sweethearts of Rhythm) writes with extraordinary sensitivity about a terrier marooned on a small island. Her prose is taut as a rope, and Ering’s (Finn Throws a Fit!) brilliantly drafted artwork sweeps across the wild waves and portrays every sort of island life. Snook is left behind when his beloved master, a monk named Abba Jacob, has to abandon an island census and put out to sea as a storm threatens; Snook waits faithfully for his return. “In the silence, he listened. The wind was his breathing. The waves were his breath.” Snook can eat and drink and forage for himself, and--though he pines for Abba Jacob--he learns that the island offers many amusements, like rolling in smelly flotsam: “Thus camouflaged, Snook stalked his island in a wolf-size cloud of stink. The rats didn’t know what hit them.” A shark attacks a sea turtle and wounds her; another maimed turtle lays her eggs as Snook watches; these wrenching moments may disturb sensitive readers, and the story’s complex vocabulary may require explanations. But Nelson’s moving portrait of Snook and his triumphant reunion should win a wide and enthusiastic audience. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Abba Jacob, a monk living in a hermitage on an island, works and prays all day, while his rat terrier Snook catches the mice and rats. The lengthy, poetic text with illuminated initial letters details their daily life. While they are cataloging the plants and other animals on other islands, a storm arrives. Abba Jacob and the other men take a boat to safety, but Snook is left behind. He manages to survive, while observing the creatures on the island, the predators from the sea, and the turtles laying their eggs on the sand. All the while Snook's love reaches out to his master, until there is a happy reunion. Full-page naturalistic acrylic and ink illustrations convey the intensity of Snook' emotions and the companionship between dog and monk. The text pages leave room for many thumbnail drawings of the assorted activities on the island. The image of a very aggressive sea bird attacking a pair of rats suggests the power of a Renaissance drawing. The gentle, humanistic text writes of love, clearly visualized in the illustrations. Note the contrasting jacket and cover, and the difference between the beginning and the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—This story in free verse tells of a small rat terrier that lives on an island with the monk Abba Jacob. In charming acrylic and ink spot art that erupts into luscious colorful spreads, readers see these two friends go about their simple yet meaningful days. Abba Jacob prays, gardens, and tends to his hermitage while the pup shadows him. "Snook followed him to the fish pool/and prowled for mice while Abba Jacob/fed the carp and rescued/the toads, lizards, geckos, and the odd hedgehog/that had fallen in overnight." During a special trip where Abba Jacob is assigned to catalog plant and animal species on several small islands, a storm comes up that separates the two friends, leaving Snook on an unfamiliar island on his own. The dog takes in the curious world around him from crabs to sharks to sea turtles, but he never stops waiting for the monk's return. The poetry of the text evokes all the senses and pulls at the emotions. This book will capture the heart of anyone who has ever loved and been loved by a special pet.—Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews

"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)

Kristi Jemtegaard
Marilyn Nelson's poetic text is sweetened by Timothy Basil Ering's color-saturated paintings set against parchment-textured backgrounds.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
Nelson's moving portrait of Snook and his triumphant reuinion should win a wide and enthusiastic audience.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Acrylic and ink art depicts heavy- and light-hearted moments equally well, and while Snook and the ever-present ocean are painted realistically, Ering's cartoony representation of Abba Jacob lightens the load, balancing the story's darker moments.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Haunting and perceptive. . . . Nelson writes in delicate stanzas of effortless poetry. . . . Ering's acrylic-and-ink fades from the bright palette of the monk's abode to a nearly two-tone earthiness, and creates a style both realistic and emotional - you can almost feel the generous swaths of paint. The final reuniting is sudden, yet as genuine as everything else about the book. There is no artifice here, no foisted plot. Just a dog, waiting to resume his happiness.
—Booklist (starred review)

Nelson's text-though prose, still poetically lyrical-depicts both island idyll and doggy reality—There's an open-air breeziness to Ering's mixed-media illustrations— Snook is portrayed with a fair amount of informal realism, while baldheaded and spindly-limbed Abba Jacob is endearingly cartoonish, but their reunion-Snook bouncing into the air with glee, and both man and dog open-mouthed with joyous relief-visually encapsulates the inner boogie of jubilation such a meeting can bring.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

In charming acrylic and ink spot art that erupts into luscious colorful spreads, readers see these two friends go about their simple yet meaningful days...The poetry of the text evokes all the senses and pulls at the emotions. This book will capture the heart of anyone who has ever loved and been loved by a special pet.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763626679
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 965,521
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.27 (w) x 11.31 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn Nelson is the author of many acclaimed books for young people and adults, including CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL, a Printz Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She also translated THE LADDER, a picture book by Halfdan Rasmussen. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Timothy Basil Ering is the illustrator of the Newbery Medal-winning THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo and FINN THROWS A FIT! by David Elliott. He is also the author-illustrator of THE STORY OF FROG BELLY RAT BONE and NECKS OUT FOR ADVENTURE! He lives in Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

    "Snook Alone" is about a dog and his owner and he loses his owner and then finds his owner again. Snook and his owner love each other very much.
    I think kids would like it because it's about a dog that tries to make the best of when he is alone and he's waiting for his owner.
    I think other kids would enjoy it more if they were old enough to actually understand the words.
    My favorite part is when Snook is with Abba Jacob and they are praying and sleeping and cleaning toilets together.

    Snook alone on the island tried to make the best of it until his friend (owner) Abba Jacob returned. He didn't just stay sad and think, "I'm not going to have any fun."
    Even though there were a lot of difficult words, it was still great!

    Review by Sadie B., age 7, Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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