Every once in a great while a perfect children’s book comes along. Snutt the Ift: A Small but Significant Chapter in the Life of the Universe, published in America by Little Pickle Press, is one of those books. Written and illustrated by Helen Ward and originally published in the United Kingdom as Wonderful Life, the book relates the story of a small space-traveling animal who finds himself far from home and lonely. And then something wonderful happens.
I won’t spoil it for you, but it truly is wonderful. Ward tells her story in spare, delicate, and evocative prose, but that’s just the start. She creates a fantastical watercolor world of blossiblums, butterflings, and whishgrass in her illustrations that young children will almost recognize. That slight dissonance provides a great springboard for discussions about the single greatest unspoken question of the book: Has Snutt found us? Does the dissonance in names and images reflect earth through the eyes of a small, weaselish scientist? Or is this another planet entirely?
The book also provides a way to introduce children to the natural world–how are butterflies like butterflings? How are they different? Just what kind of animal is Snutt? What kind of flowers does he discover? Do we have any here? You and your child will have many happy hours exploring along with Snutt.
All in all this book is a happy combination of poetic art and artistic copy, the kind of thing that can happen when an enormously talented writer and an enormously talented illustrator happen to share a body. Snutt’s story is printed using soy inks on recycled paper (to keep our wonderful corner of the universe wonderful). This is a beautiful, gentle book, just right for a bedtime story.
Be sure to enter the grand prize drawing for NINE Little Pickle Press books including the two foreign-language titles. What a great gift for some lucky child. Just sign up for the newsletter at http://www.littlepicklepress.com to automatically be entered. While you’re there, look at all the award-winning books. Good luck!
Tomorrow Snutt explores the Circle of Friends blog–catch up with him there.
Writing Prompt: One of the things that Helen Ward does well is play with perspective–readers are shown Snutt’s world from a dizzying variety of angles. Conversely, Snutt’s perspective–his view of his surroundings–remains consistent. It’s one of the things that helps readers to understand his character. Choose a character you know well–it might be someone in your writing, or someone in your life–and look at the world through his or her eyes for a few minutes. In what ways is this person’s perspective consistent with yours? In what ways is it different? Why?