Friday 26 October 2012

Snook Alone

 Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (Candlewick Press/Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-0-7636-6120-5
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

There is a special bond between Snook, the rat terrier, and Abba Jacob. They do everything together.  Abba Jacob along with several others is asked to help catalogue the plants and animal species of seven islands. Snook of course goes too. He fills his time chasing rats, digging, marking trees and enjoying all kinds of adventures while Abba Jacob does his work.

It is during one of these adventures on Avocaire Island, that Snook and his friend are separated. Gale force winds cause the sky to darken. Snook is busy digging and chasing rats, and doesn’t hear Abba Jacob’s calls and whistles above the roar of the wind. The gale forces the workers’ small boat to anchor in the lee of a larger island. When at last Snook tries to follow the Abba’s scent, it ends at the water’s edge. He is forced by the wind to find shelter.

Snook sits at the water’s edge each day where the scent ends and waits and waits. He sees crabs and birds of many kinds, but not Abba Jacob. Turtles make their way up the sand and lay their eggs, then turn back towards the sea.

Snook learns the sad loneliness of being left alone; the pain of being separated from a friend. But trust and faith live on in Snook within ‘a vast circle of longing’. And there, within that circle, Snook waits for Abba Jacob’s return.

An emotional and moving tale of faith and trust, and the pain of being separated from someone you love, is presented in poetic prose. The endearing illustrations are produced in acrylic and ink, with more than adequate text which allows older readers to enjoy this excellent picture book. Although it is aimed at age 4-7+, it is more than suitable for an ageless audience due to the absolute beauty of the book.

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