Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Snook Alone

Nelson, Marilyn (Author)
Ering, Timothy Basil (Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2012. 48 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9780763661205 (paperback)
9780763626679 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, characterization, figurative language, multimodal, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Snook and Abba Jacob are best friends who live on an island hermitage. Snook, a rat terrier, spends his days chasing rats and mice. Abba Jacob, a monk, spends his days praying and working. One day they travel to an island to catalogue plant and animal species, but a storm comes up and Snook gets stranded there. The rest of the book relates how Snook learns to fend for himself, while pining for Abba Jacob’s return.

The language is the highlight of this book. Nelson’s poetic prose is creative, surprising and sometimes humorous. Each page is full of text, with many delightful sentences: “Snook slept on a green cushion, with one ear periscoping out of sleep and every sleeping muscle poised.” And when Snook finds himself alone on the island, he rolls in a rubbish heap: “Thus camouflaged, Snook stalked his island in a wolf-sized cloud of stink. The rats didn’t know what hit them.” When his owner finally returns to the island, “he jumped and raced in a yapping circle of pee-dribbling delight.”

The accompanying illustrations, done in ink and acrylic, are colourful and expressive. Some are functional, in black and white, portraying Abba and Snook doing their daily routines: hunting, sweeping, cleaning toilets, sleeping. Others are colourful landscapes, featuring an expansive sky and beach, with Snook, a small, lone figure.

The story captures the spirit of a loyal dog and the bond with his human friend. It is a story of survival, faith and love, with words and illustrations as alive as the two featured heroes.

  •  

    Go on a picture walk and discuss the characters and setting. Make predictions about the story.

  •  Write about what life would be like on a desert island. What would you do all day? How would you survive? What would you remember most about your friends?
  •  

    Find examples of the author's use of rich, figurative language, including similes and metaphors. Write your own descriptive text using similarly rich language.

  •  

    Search this story to identify the animals and plants catalogued by Abba Jacob on Avocaire Island. Use ITCs to create a slideshow about the vegetation and animal world found there.

  •  

    Go on a picture walk and discuss the characters and setting. Make predictions about the story.

  •  

    Use teacher-selected resources to research Avocaire Island. Locate it on a world map.

  •  

    Search this story to identify the animals and plants catalogued by Abba Jacob on Avocaire Island. Use ITCs to create a slideshow about the vegetation and animal world found there.

  •  

    Discuss the importance of friendship. What are the qualities of a good friend? Which qualities apply to the friendship between Abba Jacob and Snook?

  •  

    What events or adventures might a dog, by itself, experience on a deserted island? Could the dog survive alone? Discuss your answers in a small group.

  •  While you read, notice Snook’s changing environment. Does he seem better off in one place than another?
  •  

    Select several consecutive pages and write about what Snook is thinking and feeling. Use the first person.

  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Visual Arts