cover image Snail’s Ark

Snail’s Ark

Irene Latham, illus. by Mehrdokht Amini. Putnam, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-10939-7

Esther, a tiny taupe snail with a radiantly yellow shell, wakes up one morning with her waving antlers detecting a storm in the air: “Something was happening./ Something big.” In the surf far below her, Esther sees a large boat that many will recognize as Noah’s ark, with animals already streaming in, two by two. As the sky darkens and the air swirls, the previous collaborators (Dictionary for a Better World) conjure a snail’s-eye view of the desperate in-gathering, written in Latham’s rhythmic prose and rendered with visual urgency via Amini’s digitally enhanced acrylic-gouache collages. “The ground vibrated with footsteps—/ heavy ones,/ hooved ones,/ clawed ones./ Hurry, hurry! the ground said.” Attempting to avoid the crush of animals, Esther checks on her snail friend Solomon, coaxes Solomon onto an orange leaf, and the two ride it through the stormy air and onto the ark, where they join their fellow creatures: “excited ones,/ frightened ones,/ grateful ones.” In a sweet biblical retelling with deep resonance, the creators capture the many emotions of seeing a big event through small eyes. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (Feb.)