cover image GLUEY: A Snail Tale

GLUEY: A Snail Tale

Vivian Walsh, J. Otto Seibold, , illus. by J.otto Seibold. . Harcourt, $15 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-216620-5

Walsh and Seibold, whose offbeat characters include Mr. Lunch and Olive, the Other Reindeer, introduce a prepossessing and generous escargot. "Once upon a time... in a lovely meadow a stone's throw away... A bunny found an empty house and moved right in." Celerina, the rabbit, does not realize her new home is kept in good shape by Gluey, an ecru-green "carpenter snail" who loves fixing cracks. (Although his patching technique is not shown, he pores over a repair manual and lifts broken objects with his antennae.) When Celerina breaks a vase, Gluey puts it back together overnight. Yet the snail is too small to be seen or heard, so Celerina attributes her luck to her "magic" house. She proudly plans a party to show it off, and while she's tidying up, she meets Gluey and disgustedly "flick[s] him across the meadow." Celerina's darling name is much sweeter than she is; Seibold gives her a cynical cupid's-bow mouth and wicked Bette Davis eyes. But Gluey—whose blue-gray shell gets slightly damaged in his landing—does not hold a grudge, and Celerina comes to realize her error. Walsh creates suspense and sympathy around the snail's travails, and Seibold's images of the skeptical bunny and some gnomish "Wee Folk" are tongue-in-cheek charming. Shiny, translucent lines suggest sticky effluvium on the cover of this peculiarly appealing fable. All ages. (Oct.)