cover image THE SNAIL HOUSE


Allan Ahlberg, THE SNAIL HOUSE Allan Ahlberg. , $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0711-1

Tyler's (The Good Little Christmas Tree) paneled, watercolor and pen-and-ink pictures in miniature play a pivotal role in revealing the engaging action in this creatively designed, horizontal volume. Small-scaled, wispy and finely detailed, her art bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the late Janet Ahlberg. In his story within a story, author Ahlberg introduces a brother and sister who climb into their grandmother's ample lap while their baby brother dozes in a stroller. The woman tells them about three siblings—portrayed in the pictures as their look-alikes—who one day shrink to a tiny size and take up residence in a snail's shell: "It was a proper house too, with a door and windows, roof and chimney, table, chairs, three little beds, curtains, and crockery—everything!" Side panels show the siblings battling bugs with a broomstick and hanging laundry on a line fixed between the snail's feelers. As the children eagerly interrupt their grandmother to comment on her tale, the nimble, conversational narrative describes a trio of adventures that the children embark upon before bidding farewell to their snail. Ahlberg again displays his gift for storytelling in a work that will surely set young imaginations loose and may well color the way readers view diminutive garden dwellers. Tyler's paintings prove that she is equally adept at depicting these likable human characters as she is the natural world. Ages 5-8. (Mar .)