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An Introduction to The Snail and the Whale

This wonderful story features a very small snail and a very big whale and their thrilling adventures around the world. Find out everything about Julia Donaldson's The Snail and the Whale here.

About The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale (2003) is a bestselling children's picture book by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. It follows a courageous little sea snail who embarks on an incredible adventure on the tail of a whale, seeing all sorts of amazing sights - until the whale becomes beached on the sand! In 2005, the book won the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud. In 2012, it was adapted into a stage play by the theatre company Tall Stories, and now tours internationally.

Plot of The Snail and the Whale

A tiny sea snail gazes wistfully out to sea and dreams of sailing away. The other snails tell her that she should simply sit still and stay put on the rock. However, when an enormous whale arrives one starry night, she decides to hitch a ride on its tail!

Together, they travel to distant lands to see icebergs, fiery mountains and golden beaches. Seeing the utter size of the world, the snail feels smaller than ever! But one day, the whale becomes lost and confused, having been disturbed by the ear-splitting roar of some racing speedboats, and soon finds himself beached on the land.

The heroic snail sets off to fetch help. She slides into a classroom and writes 'Save the Whale' with her slimy trail on the blackboard. The children immediately get to work, fetching firemen and digging a watery hole around the whale. The tide soon comes in, and the snail and the whale are able to travel safely away.

When they return to the other snails on the rock, they relay their incredible story. The snails are inspired to leave the rock themselves and all climb onto the whale's tail, ready to embark on their own adventure!

Why We Love The Snail and the Whale

Firstly, we love the story itself. This wonderful tale is both hugely exciting and conveys important moral messages. We love how the intrepid and courageous little snail embarks on an adventure and comes up with a great plan to save the whale, regardless of her small size! It shows that no matter how small you are, you can make a big impact if you set your mind to it.

The whale himself is an endearing character, a kind and generous soul who's happy to take the snail on an enthralling tour of the world. But when this gentle creature ends up getting stuck on the land - having been disturbed and set off-course by the racing speedboats - we're reminded that we must take care to protect our ocean wildlife. It also gives the story a thrilling twist that keeps us on the edge of our seats, hoping the whale will make it back to the sea!

Secondly, Julia Donaldson's rhyming verse is fantastically fun to read. The rhymes and repetition make it very enjoyable to read aloud and listen to, both for kids and adults! It also helps kids develop important reading and phonics skills as they learn to match certain letters with certain sounds.

Plus, we adore the spellbinding illustrations in this book. Axel Scheffler's gorgeous art style never fails to enchant us, and the pictures are full of personality and charm. We particularly love the adorable little snail, so tiny on the tail of the smiling whale!

If you can't get enough of these magical tales, you can explore our full range of Julia Donaldson books.