Children's Literature - Karen SaxeThe story is somewhat of a fairy tale in nature-a boy finds a magical snail who provides him with stories to tell his friends. Teaching the value of storytelling is certainly worthwhile in this day and age, and readers will pick up on this lesson. This book is intended for the reader who is just learning to truly read all by him or herself, and is recommended for the shelves of teachers of the early elementary grades. 1997 (orig.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-4A newly illustrated edition of Rockwell's tale (Macmillan, 1974; o.p.). John, who is good and kind but not particularly talented at any one thing, is pitied by the Story Snail, who gives him 100 wonderful stories. When the tales lose their novelty, the boy sets out in search of the snail. His ensuing adventures involve the Wild West Wind, a green elf, a mermaid, a dragon, and a magical password that opens the golden door to the snail's home. By the end of his search, John has gained a newfound confidence in himself and his ability to create his own stories. Smith's illustrations, rendered in oil pastels and colored pencil, are vivid and lovely, though stylistically more aloof and sophisticated than Rockwell's straightforward line drawings in the original. The new paintings emphasize the darker, psychological aspects of the tale. Details in the original version's pictures firmly root the tale within the European folkloric tradition: John, in costume and appearance, resembles a young H. C. Andersen and the golden door depicts scenes from several well-known tales ("Puss in Boots," "The Tortoise and the Hare"). This edition shows John as an individual with light brown skin, almond-shaped eyes, and broad lips, reminding readers of the universal nature of storytelling. Both illustrators offer valid, intriguing interpretations of the tale.Marilyn Taniguchi, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
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