Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

Have you ever fallen in love with a book? Like, so in love that you've stolen it? I've never done this myself - I guess it's my inner librarian that quails at the thought of swiping a library book, since those are for *everyone*. But recently I was reading an interview with an author, cannot for the life of me remember who, and he/she admitted that as a child they had loved a book so much that they swiped it from the local library.


Honestly I suspect this probably happens more than we realize. After all can you really blame a child for doing this, when there is such literary richness on store in today's library. Certainly I'm not condoning the disapparation of public property, but I think we can all remember a time when we came across a book so perfect, so aptly suited to our place in life, that we just wanted to consume it. At least, I can relate to that (it happens to me sometimes still, which is why my bank account is so slim).

That's pretty much what's going on in Helen and Thomas Docherty's new picture book The Snatchabook, a title that, quite honestly, you may want to swipe yourself, it's that good. Eliza Brown, like the rest of the occupants of the forest neighborhood Burrow Down, is snuggling up with her bedtime reads when something strange happens -- Eliza's book vanishes. And Eliza's not the only one, for other families are experiencing the very same thing. It happens again, night after night, until Eliza vows to do something. Lying in wait, she catches the culprint. But rather than a big bad burglar, the villain turns out to be a little bat-like creature called a Snatchabook who steals the books because he loves them, and he has no one to read to him.

Luckily Eliza is able to come up with a plan to satisfy the Snatchabook's hunger for stories. Furthermore, she holds firm in her insistence that the Snatchabook return every last title he pilfered before the fix is to take place. And then, once all the tomes have been restored, Eliza and her friends agree to read to the Snatchabook, and include him in their nightly bedtime story rituals.

I adored The Snatchabook because of the prize it places on the books in the story. These are the most valuable things the forest folk own, and they're devastated when the books disappear. How many of us wouldn't love it if our kids grew up to feel the same way? I've already seen firsthand the devastation Sprout felt when we mislaid one of his beloved dinosaur encyclopedias (turns out we left it at school, and boy was that ever a long weekend). So the message here is one I really embrace with all my little kidlit-lovin' librarian heart. But The Snatchabook is terrific on multiple levels - it works as a morality tale, where the Snatchabook learns stealing is wrong and has to make amends, and it works as a cozy sweet bedtime story, with its deft rhyme scheme and charmingly classic illustrations. There's a lot to appreciate with this one, and I can't wait for more from this husband-wife team.

At the end of this story there was nowhere I wanted to be more than in the burrow with Eliza Bunny and her crew (including the Snatchabook), cuddled up with a book at the end of a long day. The Snatchabook is one your kiddos will clamor for again and again - just don't be surprised if it disappears!

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Ages 3-5
Source: Library (but we didn't steal it, I promise!)
First lines: "One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down. . . / when a Snatchabook flew into town."

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