The Legend of the Golden Snail — Perfect Picture Book Friday

When I saw this book, it immediately said “Aubrey” to me (see my interview posted earlier this week) so it had to be the Perfect Picture Book this Friday.

Title: The Legend of the Golden Snail

Author/Illustrator: Graeme Base

Publisher: New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010


Genre: Picture book, fiction, fantasy

Audience Age: 5-8

Theme: Imagination, helping others

Opening Sentences: The Legend of the Golden Snail was Wilbur’s favorite story. He imagined the Golden Snail sailing through the Magical Realm to its home in the Spiral Isles, and he listened with wide eyes to the part where the Grand Enchanter banished it to the Ends of the Earth.

Synopsis: Wilbur sails off  (in his imagination? or … ?) to seek the Golden Snail of his favorite story, and to become a Grand Enchanter. He encounters various fantastical creatures, and although it slows his journey, he helps each one. He discovers later, when he encounters difficulties that those he has helped come to help him. When he finally finds the Golden Snail and becomes its new master, he takes pity on it and sets it free. Wilbur discovers that in his pursuit of his goal, he achieves something even better.

Why I like this Book: The whimsical story, fantastical creatures and marvelous illustrations combine to create a feast for the imagination. I appreciate that although Wilbur doesn’t actually achieve his intended goal, he discovers that what he has become, and what he has done, is even better. The illustrations are wonderful, and pique the imagination.

Activities/Resources: The book in itself is an activity, as there is first a small book with lift-the-flap delights on the title page, then there is a hidden “Snail and Crossbones” in each illustration, which when found lead the reader to the clue to making the Golden Snail on the author’s website come to life.

A suggestion I would give for an additional activity to use with this book is for children to be challenged to imagine and illustrate other perils Wilbur might have encountered on his quest, and to think of ways in which he could have dealt with them and helped them.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

# 14 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

43 thoughts on “The Legend of the Golden Snail — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. Fantasy picture books are just so grand! The self discovery is a wonderful theme too. So many kids need to read this book. Will definitely check it out from the library and add it to my must buy list. That list is growing longer and longer. 🙂 Love your activity. It helps children to use their minds to come up with the different dangers and help him find a way to conquer them.

    Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Robyn! I love things that get kids using their imaginations, and this certainly does. The illustrations are fantastic, too. Enjoy!

  2. Lovely fantastical story, Beth. it is great for children to also learn sometimes it is as much about the journey and how that transforms us, as about the destination. Lovely choice.

    1. “sometimes it is as much about the journey and how that transforms us, as about the destination” — oh, that’s perfectly put, Joanna. Thank you!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful book with an important message. I love Graeme Base’s art – we have a couple of his books. And I love any book that has those search-and-find things – like looking for Goldbug in Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. It’s a wonderful device to keep a pre-reader interested and listening because it gives them something to do 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Beth!

    1. I got so caught up in the story and the illustrations, that I didn’t even try to find the hidden drawing in each one — so now I get to go back and do that, and find out how to get the Golden Snail sailing on the website!

  4. I love adventure stories! I would even venture to ask whether or not actually finding the thing for which you are so desperately searching wouldn’t almost be anti-climactic. What next???? This sounds wonderful- I’m adding it to my ever growing list.

  5. What a great message for children. I really appreciate stories like this. I just might have to look it up as I love fantasy and a good journey. Great review and book selecton.

  6. Oh, Graeme Base! I love, love, love his artwork. My son Arthur has Animalia and he will spend ages examining the images. Wonderful choice!

    1. I suspect Arthur will enjoy this one as well, then. The illustrations are imaginative and fantastical (different from Animalia, though, I believe).

  7. Awww, darn! This was on my list to do for next week, you beat me to it!

    I am absolutely in love with the illustrations in this book. My kids will sit with this book for hours on end. Great choice, Beth!

  8. Beth…thank you for a wonderful review of a fantastic book…love the illustrations and the search and discover features.
    Great message also…we often discover important things about ourselves when we search for something else. 🙂

  9. As silly as this may sound, this picture books sounds like something I – in all my grown up-ness – would adore. The idea of Wilbur taking the time to help others is just too cute and I could imagine my kiddo asking a lot of questions with a book like this.

    1. It doesn’t sound silly to me at all. I’m supposedly grown up (at 55 I sometimes still feel like 5, however…) and there are many picture books that I absolutely adore.


  10. This sounds like just the sort of thing my Miaolings would like to read. With a kitty on the cover, how could I resist? The story sounds lovely and the art is adorable.

    1. Sprocky would love the adventure part, I’m sure. The kitty on the cover accompanies Wilbur in all his sailings to find the snail.

  11. We are big fans of Graeme Base. I remember the anticipation we had for this book when it came out. The illustrations in the book are fantastic and finding the snail and crossbones was super fun. My kids have liked the story lines in his other books more – particularly Uno’s Garden and The Eleventh Hour. But, in my opinion you can’t go wrong with a picture book by Graeme Base — a lot of bang for your buck!

    1. I confess this is the first Graeme Base book I’ve read, and I was delighted with it. I will have to find Uno’s Garden and The Eleventh Hour. Thanks for the recommendations, Eric!

  12. Love the adorable picture on the cover and sounds like a lovely book I would enjoy. So need to get this for my nephews….love fantasy -oohhh another author to keep in mind.

    1. So many authors, so little time, right? I need to also look for the books Eric recommended a few comments up — same author.

      Thanks, Diane.

  13. I love the additional activity you suggested, as I’m all about using lit as a springboard not only for further writing but for art and drama as well. This looks like a book that would lend itself well to all those things! 🙂

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