Believe in yourself!

More about the picture book     |     More about the audio book   |     About the author/illustrator     |     Purchase     |     Home

2013 Readers' Favorite Competition Winner!

Picture/Popup Category    Read Review


More about the picture book

It might come as a surprise that I did research before I wrote a single word of Snailsworth. I thought it important to understand everything I could about garden snails, their habitat, what they eat, kinds of creatures they might come into contact with, and, yes, even which kinds like to eat them! So a little something about the characters: a cricket, a toad, a snake and moth - and, of course, a snail.


Snailsworth, a brown garden snail, has never strayed far from the safety of her sheltered home in the ivy. In an effort to reach what looks like a tasty bite of food hanging high above the ground (and despite the warnings and threats of a few other characters), she sets off on an all-night journey, the value of which far transcends her disappointment and fear. At its end, she finds that her inadvertent adventure has been well worth the risk.

The setting: Snailsworth's home

The story takes place on a dark, moonless evening in summer. The crickets scritch-scritch secret messages to each other through the darkness. Fireflies blink here and there across the sky.

A stone path leads through ivy to the old garden gate, and a large rhododendron bush stretches up the fence; flowers that grow in the garden beyond the fence are barely visible through gaps in the fence. The gate latch is unhooked. Has someone just entered the garden? Or is someone going to be coming out? Perhaps the door, barely ajar, beckons you to enter. You see, the setting is really a character, too!

The characters

A story is nothing without memorable characters, and this story has a few. Each has a distinct voice, behavior, intention and purpose.


Snailsworth is the main character. She learns many things about the world on her journey. Perhaps best of all is what she learns about herself and about "destiny" (it's all in the slime!)

Snails have extremely small features, barely visible, in fact, so in order to give Snailsworth character, I greatly exaggerated her eyes and gave her a very colorful and detailed shell.

The idea for Snailsworth came to me one evening as I sat on my back steps...looking at my garden path and gate and at snail trails crisscrossing the stepping-stones. The setting in the artwork looks very much like that scenery. (At the time I was also pondering upon my destiny.) 


Supporting characters are very important to a story. They challenge and motivate the main character and prompt reactions and dialogue. They also can cause the main character to think... which is something Snailsworth does a lot of.

Rickety Cricket warns Snailsworth about both known and unknown dangers in the world. Rickety is a nervous character. He is afraid of his own shadow and tries to talk Snailsworth out of leaving familiar territory. I gave Rickety springs on his joints, since he's always so jumpy!


Hughy Hop-toad reaches for Snailsworth who, luckily, has climbed out of reach. Toads are known for eating snails. Snailsworth is very smart and stays out of his way. There are plenty of bullies in the world (just like Huey), and we have to learn to face up to them.


Snivly Snake, like Hughy Hop-toad, does not mean Snailsworth well. Thank goodness she's too sleepy to act! And Snailsworth is quick to think and get herself out of there fast (fast for a snail, that is). Snivly is sneaky. She tries to go behind people's backs and do them harm. A common garden snake, the garter is really a friend to humans. But just the way they slink around makes them look suspicious. I don't find them particularly threatening, but I know that snails do!


Millie Moth is on a quest to find her "destiny." But she doesn't know where to find it, so she constantly flutters in search. Snailsworth knows, deep inside, that she creates her OWN destiny! Some people just do not know where they are going...or why. Thank goodness people like Snailsworth think about their choices. When someone really looks around, he or she can see some amazing sites! On the tops of its wings, the polyphemus moth has large spots that look like eyes. When Millie springs into the air, this startles Snailsworth. But Snailsworth learns something important about her own destiny.


A host of other incidental characters adds interest throughout the book, especially in spread 1, in which they can all be found. They add more nature as well as character to the scene, even though they don't have any "lines." Many are half hidden in the scenery, adding another dimension to the artwork.

 2012 Tina Field Howe. All rights reserved.