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Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Snail and the Whale’ is a wonderful tale about a tiny – but ambitious – snail who longs to see the world. She hitches a lift with a whale who takes her to many distant lands with many different climates. Experiencing more of the big wide world makes the snail feel even smaller, but when the whale is landed in trouble, can she help?

Reader's Reviews


This book uses a simple but effective rhyme scheme to tell the tale of an unlikely friendship of a tiny snail and a humpback whale. The whale and snail go an exciting adventure around the world through star lit seas, icebergs and tropical lands. As the snail travels he begins to feel overwhelmed by the size of the world around him, but presented with a dilemma is able to help the huge humpback whale when it gets into trouble.

The story uses colourful illustration to accompany the rhyme and gives a clear picture to the reader about where the friend’s travels have taken them. Julia Donaldson uses repetition of key words to reinforce the ideas of difference between the size of the snail and whale but emphasises that no matter what the size they can still be friends.

The book sends a strong message about confidence and the moral that if we try hard enough anything is possible. It also conveys the tale of bravery of the small snail as he tries to help his friend. This book is a superb picture book for expanding children’s imagination of the world as it explores different lands over and under the sea.


The Snail and the Whale is an ideal story to read aloud to your child firstly because it’s lovely to listen to! This is because of the regular rhythm, rhyming couplets and other features such as alliteration. Children will love the bright illustrations that feature lots of animals in their environments, from penguins on icebergs and fish in oceans to monkeys up trees and bears in the mountains! This truly is a wonderful book, from its plots to its sounds, your child will love it…and so will you!

Julia Donaldson is a wonderful author, and this lovely picture book for children (recommended between 3-8 years) is no exception. With its beautiful illustrations and catchy rhyme scheme, it is a wonderful addition to any child's book shelf and one that will be read time and time again. 

The description in this book is wonderful, and is used to explain the amazing journeys the snail and the whale take together, which will inevitably evoke discussions with any child about the places, as well as places they might like to visit. The messages behind the text are also valuable, focussing on the concept of unlikely friendship, journeys together, and that no matter how small, you can achieve anything you want to. This book is a delight, and one of my favourites for children :) 

Parental Guidance

  • Reading Age: Ages 3 - 6
  • Reading Aloud Age: add your suggested read-aloud age


If you like this you might like

  • Other books by this author and illustrator (category below).

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