cover image Snook Alone

Snook Alone

Marilyn Nelson, illus. by Timothy Basil Ering, Candlewick, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2667-9

Nelson (Sweethearts of Rhythm) writes with extraordinary sensitivity about a terrier marooned on a small island. Her prose is taut as a rope, and Ering’s (Finn Throws a Fit!) brilliantly drafted artwork sweeps across the wild waves and portrays every sort of island life. Snook is left behind when his beloved master, a monk named Abba Jacob, has to abandon an island census and put out to sea as a storm threatens; Snook waits faithfully for his return. “In the silence, he listened. The wind was his breathing. The waves were his breath.” Snook can eat and drink and forage for himself, and—though he pines for Abba Jacob—he learns that the island offers many amusements, like rolling in smelly flotsam: “Thus camouflaged, Snook stalked his island in a wolf-size cloud of stink. The rats didn’t know what hit them.” A shark attacks a sea turtle and wounds her; another maimed turtle lays her eggs as Snook watches; these wrenching moments may disturb sensitive readers, and the story’s complex vocabulary may require explanations. But Nelson’s moving portrait of Snook and his triumphant reunion should win a wide and enthusiastic audience. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)