Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson

coverimageLynn: You are all book lovers out there so I know you will understand when I say that there are some books that I just want to clutch tightly to my heart when I’ve finished them. I can hardly bear to put them down and break the reading spell. Snook Alone (Candlewick 2010) is one of those. I am going to put aside any trace of reviewer’s dispassionate distance and just gush. I LOVE this book. I love everything about it. I love Nelson’s brilliantly evocative poetry. I love Timothy Basil Ering’s astonishing art work, both the sweeping full page water color landscapes and the tiny pencil sketches nestled amidst the poetry. I love the story of loyalty and love and I love the fact that Nelson’s Snook is every inch a dog – the very essence of dog – one who rolls blissfully in smelly stuff and dribbles pee ecstatically when his friend returns. I love the range of intense emotions this book took me through from lump-in-the-throat sadness to the glorious joy of a triumphant reunion. I love the careful depiction of nature on the island by both poet and artist and the way the angle of Snook’s ears just shouts his curious energetic intelligence. I love the whimsy of Ering’s sketches and the way they mirror the story. I love Nelson’s brilliant and beautiful word choices such as “every molecule listened for his friend” and “he slept ftifully, his ears awash in noise.” I love this book and it is going to take all my will power to give it back to Cindy so she can write her part. I am placing orders immediately for a zillion copies as I plan to give them to everyone I know for gifts. This is one of those rare books that is truly for all ages and I’m going to pry my fingers off it any minute now. I promise – any minute.

Cindy: I can’t compete with that because I admire this book as much as Lynn but she’s used up every adjective I know. So…Caldecott, anyone? We had the privilege to watch Timothy Ering’s painting technique in action at the ALSC Picture Book Preconference last June, and with the way he attacked the paper with tools and spray bottles of water and other implements of destruction, the resulting artwork is incredulous to see in its finished state. Between that and Nelson’s poetry, this book truly is something special.

Sometimes Snook watched the birds.
The fairy terns, arrowlike white creatures,
quick and agile, flew in mated pairs,
div-bombing the sea and flying home
with likttle fishes dangling from their beaks
like handlebar mustaches.
The heavier, larger frigate birds
often robbed them of their catch
before they could get to their chicks.
The terns soared back for a new
catch, weaving together
like streaks of playful light,
every movement a synonym for joy.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson"

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  1. How about Newbery too? I’m probably biased having a dog of my own now, but this book is marvelous, I agree.

  2.' Sherry says:

    Lynn; there are two more books coming in this series.

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