cover image Snail Mail

Snail Mail

Samantha Berger, illus. by Julia Patton. Running Press, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7624-6251-3

Four snails carry a letter “made by a Girl who loved a Boy” from Santa Monica to New York City in this appropriately leisurely paced tale about the pleasures of taking one’s time. After Colonel McHale Snail issues the directive to “Go!,” the snails inch ahead, chanting the Snail Mail Promise: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor hail will stop a snail from bringing the mail.” In measured prose that seems to mimic the letter carriers’ pace, Berger (Monster’s New Undies) tracks the snails across various terrain: “And even though their progress was very slow... there was something special about slowing down... to look around... and notice... what an amazing place the country was.” Patton (The Very Very Very Long Dog) works mainly in light, wispy tones—as though the scenes are filtered through a thin layer of snail slime—which makes some of the snails difficult to decipher. Exceptions include a spread revealing a double rainbow, sunset, and lime-green meadow, and another featuring postcardlike images of some iconic sites (Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone). Readers are rewarded when the couriers finally hand the Boy the letter (though some may be disappointed that its contents aren’t shared), after which the snails receive their own letter containing four gold medals “for good service.” Ages 4−8. [em]Author’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Alli Brydon, Bright USA. (May) [/em]