Saturday, March 15, 2008

Snail Garden

I have memories of snails. There are no snails where I live, at least not those big, round, brown ones you can collect in your plastic pail as a kid- or stick your big toe inside their shell to give them a little squish (as my best friend April used to, when we were 6)! Who would have thought that a kid's book would bring me to miss those garden snails?

There are four gardens at the end of Blackberry Lane and each one has something remarkable about has giant pumpkins, the other has watermelons, another has tall sunflowers and "Mr. Carey has plants that are full of holes." Each neighbor has a suggestion on how to get rid of his snails but Mr. Carey isn't interested as he says, "I see it in a different light."

Then one bright moonlit night, the sleepless neighbors wander into Mr. Carey's garden and see the snails with "glistening trails that shine like silver ribbons in the moonlight." The gnawed leaves in his garden cast "lacy shadows on the ground" and his garden is transformed into a magical place.

The somewhat isolated individuals on Blackberry lane all come to sit with Mr. Carey on his porch to watch the snails glide in the moonlight "whenever the night is warm and still and the moon is high and full." Their once casual friendship has blossomed into a ritualistic, communal one...becoming a real community. "Now they see the garden in a different light."

Mr. Carey"s Garden by Jane Cutler is a story for all ages and it is full of lessons for both young and old. I found Jane's website profile inspiring. An author who graduated with a Master's in Creative writing from San Francisco State in 1982.... and it wasn't until 1993 that she published her first children's book. She went off to raise a family with 3 children in between. Now she is the author of several wonderful books that I will definitely read more of.

G. Brian Karas is the illustrator who's work is described best in a review by the NY Times as "depicted in a childlike style that belies the sophistication of the drawings. Exquisite and moving in its subtlety." He has an amazing website and I never knew he wrote and illustrated soooo many books!


  1. I know a couple of snail crunchers!
    BTW there is a great list of picture books that have a garden theme at

  2. Thanks, this is the time for springtime garden-book reading.......and easter bunny books too!


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