Today’s review is for The Snatchabook, written by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty, published by Sourcebooks. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I am also pleased to announce that I was invited to participate in the blog tour for this book. So, keep reading after the review for a special guest post from Helen and Thomas Docherty!
The Snatchabook is a whimsical new picture book by husband and wife duo, Helen and Thomas Docherty. Burrow Down is a peaceful forest neighborhood where children are tucked in to bed at night with stories. That is, until someone starts stealing all the books! One little girl, Eliza Brown, decides to get to the bottom of the mystery and discovers the Snatchabook. But by setting firm boundaries and practicing compassion, Eliza comes up with a solution where everyone wins.
This story, told in rhyming verse is a joy to read aloud. It could certainly become a bedtime favorite in many households. The language is playful–and the rhymes flow smoothly. Helen Docherty even manages to make the rhymes feel natural, avoiding the shoe-horned-in feeling so common in rhyming stories. Heroine Eliza Brown is a great character. I love her cleverness and persistence, her desire to solve the mystery, and her creative problem-solving. She’s a great role model for kids.
Thomas Docherty’s illustrations are lovely. They’re cute, but they are also lively. There is a luminous quality to many of them, and his technique creates the feeling that light sources in the images are actually glowing. His cutaway views of the burrows in Burrow Down are some of my favorite elements of the book–I love how they really create a sense of place and setting.
The Snatchabook is a beautifully designed and executed book. Pages are thoughtfully laid out to provide pacing to the text–two page spreads to make you linger, several smaller illustrations on a page to give a sense of frenzied activity. I also appreciate that there’s never too much text on any page. As always, I appreciate the attention paid to such details.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for being an engaging new bedtime tale. The Docherty’s have done an excellent job of adding to the realm of fairy tale creatures with their invention of the Snatchabook. Children and their caregivers are sure to love the story and the message that sometimes the bad guy isn’t such a bad guy.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviws, at Goodreads.
Guest Post From Helen and Thomas Docherty
I invited Helen and Thomas to discuss how they came up with the idea for the Snatchabook as a creature. Where did he come from? What could they share about his background? The following is their response.
Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).
The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cozy bedtime world of Burrow Down. So really, the Snatchabook represents any child who has missed out on that experience, for whatever reason. And in a way, all the animals in the community of Burrow Down become his ‘parents’ when they include him in their story times at the end. (As to where he came from originally…that remains a mystery!)
Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed.
Here are his earliest sketches:
(click the image to view full size)
Many thanks to the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour.
You can learn more about Helen at her website: http://www.helendocherty.com/
and Thomas at his website: http://www.thomasdocherty.co.uk/