Snail Mail (Samantha Berger)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Snail Mail, written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Julia Patton, a charmingly original tale about four diligent mail carriers who just so happen to be snails.

Before the days of emails and digital communication, there was a thing called Snail Mail – actual, physical letters and packages sent from one person to another. And to this day, most people agree that some things are just better when sent by Snail Mail – for instance, the letter that a little girl in California is sending to a boy in New York. She made it herself, wrote it in her own hand, it even smells a little like her. Such a thing simply can’t be sent by computer, so she enlists the dedicated Snail Mail carriers: Dale Snail, Gail Snail, Col. McHale Snail, and Umbérto. The four plucky creatures carry the girl’s letter across the United States, seeing deserts, mountains, plains, and wonders both natural and man-made. At last, they deliver the letter to its recipient and are rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

A cute story with some great lessons. The main theme is a reminder that faster isn’t always better: the hand-made letter, how much the snails enjoy the sights and experiences of their journey – these are good lessons in both the virtues and rewards of patience. The character art is adorable, and imbues the friendly-looking snails with personality and charm throughout, and has some lovely, subtle details and visual gags. A few complaints: I’m not wild about children being represented as having romantic relationships in general, and that was undeniably shown here. Also, there were some spots in the art that seemed oddly pixelated, but this is likely a formatting or printing error. But overall, a pretty darn sweet story with a great lesson in slowing down to appreciate the world around us. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Very Very Very Long Dog (Julia Patton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton, a whimsical tale of Bartelby the sausage dog and his uniquely long body.

Bartelby is a very very very long dog. He lives quite happily in a cozy bookshop, spending each morning reading his favorite books whilst eating his breakfast, then meeting with his three young friends to go on a walk through the city. Bartelby loves his walks, but there is one slight problem: while his front end is happily enjoying the stroll, his back end seems all too adept at getting into trouble. Seemingly a block behind Bartelby at all times, his rear has a tendency to hold up traffic, prance through wet cement, and trip up passersby. When Bartelby realizes the trouble his hindquarters are causing, he is embarrassed and heartbroken. Can his clever young friends find a solution for Bartelby’s woes?

This was a really cute premise that, for the most part, worked very well. Bartelby’s sweet, friendly and sensitive nature is endearing right off the bat, and the children he has befriended are wonderful examples of how good pals can help those with special circumstances to navigate the world. The art is scribbly and sweet, adding to the general simple, congenial feel of the story and dialogue. However, the ending was a little underwhelming, and I only wish I had gotten a clearer sense of just how long Bartelby is – including his entire continuous length in at least one illustration might have helped establish a sense of scale. Otherwise, the length was great, and JJ enjoyed it. This would be a fun one for dachshund lovers, or anyone who knows what it’s like to be a little different, but wonderfully unique. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)