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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Snail & Worm: Three Stories about Two Friends by Tina Kügler

Hi there! It's Amy, sneaking in one last post before the end of the month. Travis Jonker mentioned this title in his 2017 Geisel Award Prediction post on 100 Scope Notes. So I thought it merited some exploration here on Guessing Geisel. 

Image from hmhco.com
In the tradition of many classic beginning readers, Snail & Worm focuses on two loyal friends in three short and gently humorous episodic stories. In the first story, the two friends meet and play an imaginative game of tag. In the second, Snail finds a very, very tall flower and attempts to climb it with lots of support from Worm. In the final story, the friends introduce each other to their unexpected, but lovable pets. 

There’s much to appreciate in this attractive book. The cover is cheerful and shows readers that the two friends will have fun together. The trim size is closer to that of a traditional beginning reader, yet it’s a bit wider, allowing for more expansive illustrations. 

The text is printed in a large font and most sentences are short and declarative. There are a few that are in question form, however the text gives clues even before the final question mark. For instance, “Can you catch me?” and “Are you talking to a rock?”, begin with words that signal a question. The word repetition within in each episodic is strong, allowing readers to become confident with new words. 

The sentences in the first story are particularly thoughtful in length (no sentence is longer than five words) and design. There’s plenty of white space and most sentences are printed on one line. Unfortunately, this format does not continue in the other stories, which include long sentences (some as long as ten words), and line breaks that interrupt the natural flow of the sentences. 

The bright and whimsical illustrations are laid out in sequential panels that keep the pacing brisk. There are times when the illustrations crowd the text, forcing those aforementioned awkward line breaks, as well as eliminating vital white space. 

Image from Snail & Worm: Three Stories about Two Friends by Tina Kügler

Some spreads have strong combinations of text and supporting visual context clues. Take a look at these panels showing Worm and Snail discussing the attributes of Worm’s pet. This is a great example of visual context clues corresponding with the text and followed up with word repetition.
Image from Snail & Worm: Three Stories about Two Friends by Tina Kügler

Unfortunately, there are many more spreads where the connection between the illustrations and text are less obvious. This very issue is apparent on the very first two page spread. The words "play" and "catch" are introduced on this page, but there's nothing in the illustrations to clue in readers. 

Image from Snail & Worm: Three Stories about Two Friends by Tina Kügler


Although there are some design elements that could be more thoughtful, there’s a lot to appreciate in this story of friendship. What do you think?

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