The Snail and the Whale is not quite square at a size of 28cm x 25cm and has the standard 32 pages. The book has a variety of page layouts with many full-page spreads. I found this gave the book a more relaxed flow, as opposed to books with pages that contain many panels.
The Snail and the Whale is beautifully written and uses what seems to me, an unconventionally rhyming pattern. When read aloud the words flow with an upbeat, interesting pace. There was one page that took a couple of readings before I could get the correct rhythm, however overall the book is very enjoyable to read out loud.
The characters are fun, although not particularly developed in the story. In The Snail and the Whale, however, this isn’t really needed as it’s the journey itself which carries the narrative. The narrative itself is uplifting and sweet – the whale takes the snail on an exciting journey, and later the snail repays his kindness by saving him from being stranded on a beach. A lovely story about two friends helping each other out!
The illustrations are typical of Axel Scheffler and are easily recognisable as his style. The images are bright and bold and have a softness very suited to a younger audience. The design of the characters is simple but effective – there’s only so much you can do with a snail and a whale as main characters! The backgrounds are detailed and varied and really bring the book alive. The illustrations tend to stick to a side-on perspective, but this works well as more unusual perspectives could have been jarring and might have disrupted the gentle pace of the read.
The Snail and the Whale flows effortlessly and with the offbeat rhyming, this book is a joy to read. It’s my favourite book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer, and my oldest boy tends to pick it more than the others too, so it’s a winner in our house. Another highly recommended read!