The Snail and the Whale


A theme developed in a recent project that left me looking at things from a different perspective. Customarily, I have introduced my grandson Benjamin to picture books I think he will enjoy. In this case, he returned the favor by introducing me to The Snail and the Whale,written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler. He also took on the role of the teacher, with me as his student, pointing out the cat in the first illustration that appeared in Room on the Broom– another book by this team.

The occasion for this reversal was Benjamin’s first reading fair board. Kindergarteners do a display with adults allowed to aid and abet which brought me to yet another different perspective. I have been the teacher encouraging and giving instructions. In retirement, I have often been called to judge reading fairs. I have never before had the honor of being the adult chosen as the assistant.

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Benjamin cut, colored, glued, and stamped. He dictated the words I typed into the computer and had definite opinions. Although the rules do not require it, he was sure the illustrator’s name should be included in the information. The well-told and well-illustrated story is reminiscent of the often retold story of Aesop’s lion and the mouse with the little guy Snail helping out the big guy Whale with a reward at the end for him and his friends in a ride on Whale’s tail.  

The view from the other side as student and assistant to a kindergarten grandson is excellent, and I now have a new pairing of author/illustrator that will be on my search list. And in case you want the rest of the story, Benjamin took first place in the school competition and third place in district.