Snook Alone (Marilyn Nelson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Snook Alone, written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, a tale of a clever pup’s survival when he is marooned on an island.

Snook is a happy, hardworking rat terrier who lives with his master and best friend, Abba Jacob. Abba Jacob is a monk, a caretaker for a small hermitage on an unnamed island. His days are filled with quiet, repetitive tasks, which he undertakes in quiet contentment, Snook a constant companion by his side. One day, Abba Jacob travels to help some naturalists catalog species on a small outer island, taking Snook with him. When a storm unexpectedly descends and forces the party to leave, poor Snook is left behind in the rush. Now Snook must survive on his own, finding food, water, and shelter in an unfamiliar place filled with wonders and dangers alike. As he grows more capable, he continues to look out over the sea, missing his friend and wondering – will Abba Jacob ever return to him?

Right off the bat, let me say: this book is not meant for readers JJ’s age. It was recommended to us by a friend, and it quickly became apparent during our read-through that Snook’s story is intended for older children, early middle-grade at least. However, for the appropriate age-range, this one has tons of appeal. It’s a classic tale of survival, of hope, and of the unending loyalty of dogs. The language is beautiful, painting rich, wild environment while evoking Snook’s confusion, yearning, fear, and devotion; it puts the reader right there with the little dog as his tale unfolds. The art is a good counterpoint to this, using color and tone to immerse the reader in the story. My only complaint is the rather cartoonish appearance of the human characters, which seem odd juxtaposed against the realistic scenery and animal characters. The length is not for little ones (JJ was very squirmy by the end), but fine for older kids. A lovely tale of a dog’s love, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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