Cover image for The snail house
The snail house
Ahlberg, Allan.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 18 x 28 cm
Grandma tells Michael, Hannah, and their baby brother the story of three children who shrink to such a small size that they decide to live in a snail's shell.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.7 0.5 45150.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Allan Ahlberg's fanciful tale, paired with beautifully detailed artwork by Gillian Tyler, invites children to see the world from a different perspective. Here is the story Grandma tells one evening on her wide veranda steps. It has Michael and Hannah and the disappearing baby in it, a tigerish bird, raindrops like sacks of water, and the hugest apple you ever saw. Oh yes . . . and the Snail House. So gather round, climb up now into Grandma's lap. Darkness is falling, the air is still, and the story is just about to begin. With rhythmic text and intricate illustrations, renowned author Allan Ahlberg and illustrator Gillian Tyler have crafted a magical tale about the joys of seeing the world up close--and of sharing stories.

Author Notes

Allan Ahlberg was born in 1938 in South London, and grew up in the Black Country. He worked as a teacher, postman, grave digger, soldier and plumber's mate before he became a full-time writer.

He met his wife and creative partner, Janet at teacher training college. It was because Janet wanted to illustrate a book that Allan wrote his first book, the Brick Street boys. After that, together they wrote 37 books.

Janet died in 1994 and Ahlberg discontinued his writing career for a few years before picking it up again.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-6. Mailman Johnny brings an unexpected delivery--a little boy named Bubble, who happens to be the grandnephew of old man Granstrom and his brother. The elderly pair welcome Bubble and then settle in to put together a ship from the kit he has brought. When placed in the water, it grows to life size. That's the setup for a fantasy adventure that takes Bubble and his granduncles on a grand voyage "around the world" in Bubble's words, though the scenery never looks that far from home. There's a relaxed air to the story, which develops its plot in leisurely fashion. More detailed than the usual picture book, this invites youngsters to settle and savor the seaside flavor. Pen-and-wash artwork sets a friendly mood and injects a bit of humor as they depicts the progress of the voyage. --Denise Wilms

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Sitting on the steps of a country farmhouse after a full day of strawberry picking, Grandma weaves a tale of fantasy for Michael, Hannah, and the baby. "Once upon a long, long time ago there was a boy and his sister and their little baby brother who all of a sudden got so very, very small that they could leave that house of theirs by a crack under the door-." The tiny youngsters set up housekeeping in a mobile snail house and adventures await as they move through the garden. Their experiences allow readers to understand the beauty, strength, and fragility of the natural world that lies in their own backyards. The illustrations are integral to enhancing this message. Although the artist is well known for her detailed wood engravings in fine book press editions, these watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings are no less exquisite. The detail of each frame, regardless of size, infuses the story with a visual sensitivity and imagination. The action can be followed by younger children without having to read a word. The story and artwork together kindle the magic for anyone who has ever dreamed of unseen worlds with secret doors.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.