Several times I've walked up to my mailbox and heard a "crunch" below my feet. Sometimes it's just leaves and other times it's snails!!! Up until recently I could care less if there's one less snail in the world. But now, Elisabeth Tova Bailey has made me take a second look.
"The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A True Story" was recommended to me by a very nice woman at BookExpo America. I wasn't sure what to think. Who wants to read about snails?
We meet 34-year-old Bailey on her return from vacation. Suddenly she is felled by an unknown neurological illness. Reduced to bed rest, Bailey begins to feel useless and powerless. A friend brings her a pot of violets, and a lovely snail perched upon one of the leaves to keep her company. Bailey herself wonders why should she care about a snail. When mysterious holes begin to pop up on papers next her bedside, Bailey starts to give the critter a little attention. Feeding it mushrooms and leaving water out are just the start. She's even mesmerized by the crunching sound of the snail eating at night. Food alone isn't enough, Bailey gets a terrarium and fills it with moss, leaves, birch and of course a slice of portobello mushroom. This snail has got it made with its own condo!
At times the book can get a little bogged down with scientific terminology. But you'll learn lots of interesting facts about snails. Did you know a snail has more than 2,000 teeth? When one row of teeth gets worn down another one pops up. I want that dental plan!!
The snail and Bailey have been plucked from their natural environments, the snail from the forest and Bailey from her formerly active life. Making the snail more comfortable and learning about its habitat gives Bailey something to focus on. Something other than her illness. Despite being away from the forest, the snail still finds a way to explore its new habitat, and even begins to reproduce. Life still goes on for the snail, and Bailey soon comes to realize that hers must as well. The Sounds of a Wild Snail Eating is a very simple story and you will come away from it with a greater appreciation for life. I know I will never look at a snail the same way ever again. Who knows how one reacts when faced with a long-term illness, but let's all hope we have something to hold onto even if it is a snail.
A snail in action: http://www.algonquinbooksblog.com/tag/elisabeth-tova-bailey/ Scroll down the page to see a snail on the move!!
Notes: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book at BookExpo America
I am still hosting a giveaway for The Souls of the Fire Dragon. Check out the link for details http://asiturnthepages.blogspot.com/2010/05/book-giveaway.html