HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Snailman
Author: Brenda Sivers
Illustrator: Shirley Hughes
Publisher: Little Brown and Co., 1978
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Sivers, Brenda. The Snailman (Published in 1978 by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA). Ten-year-old Timothy Eden has moved reluctantly with his parents from Croyden in south London to a cottage next to old Mr. Thompson, who he thinks must be about 100, on Orchard Lane near the dreary little village of Stourley in the country, where he is bullied by the three Payne brothers and ignored by everyone else. His father is a medical illustrator who draws parts of the body for doctors’ books, and his mother is a secretary but hasn’t been able to find a job since the move. Timothy is warned by the townspeople to stay away from Bob Mimm, the village outcast, known as Bob the Snailman, who weaves for a living and is thought to be crazy because he keeps snails as a hobby.
However, bored and lonely, Timothy nevertheless becomes the friend of Bob and finds that he not crazy at all. The boy learns how to weave, likes Bob’s dog Crabby, and discovers that the snails have distinct identities too. But when Crabby is falsely accused of hurting some cows belonging to a nearby farmer, Bob’s loom is smashed and his snail collection destroyed, and Timothy comes to the snailman’s defense. How can the youngster help? What dog is really causing the damage? And who has vandalized Bob the Snailman’s things? Besides a couple of euphemisms (danged, blast), Timothy’s father uses the “d” word and Mr. Thompson says “Lord” as an exclamation. There is also a reference to drinking beer.
Other than that, this is a good story with a nice conclusion. It certainly gives thoughtful insight into what makes a true friend and how destructive bullying and vindictiveness can be. As a result of all his problems and disappointments, Timothy could turn bitter, but he finds enlightenment as the unconventional Snailman tells him that the real troublemaker should be “”pitied more’n punished.”” Thus, Timothy learns an important lesson. There is also a listing for a book entitled Timothy and the Snailman by the same author. However, I was unable to determine if it is actually a sequel or simply a reissue of the same book by another publisher under a slightly different title.