The Snatchabook, an irresistible new release from Helen and Thomas Docherty, is the tale of an unlikely little book bandit and the reason he went to the bad side. When young readers get wind of what goes on in this thrilling story, they may stand sentry at their shelves.

Set in Burrow Down, a hillside in the woods that’s home to a furred and feathered menagerie of readers—squirrels, possums, owls and rabbits, bibliophiles all—The Snatchabook harks back to the classics, bringing to mind the insular, animal-inhabited worlds of A.A. Milne and Richard Scarry. The Dochertys’ forest-dwelling characters live in dens and hollow trees—all cozily appointed, of course—and possess decidedly human dispositions. They talk and walk upright and, perhaps most importantly, they apply human-style logic to the solving of problems.

A problem is exactly what they’re faced with when, all around Burrow Down, books begin to disappear. During a snug night of reading in bed, bunny Eliza Brown is astonished when her book whizzes away through an open window. The Owl clan and the Squirrel family have the same experience, as books inexplicably vanish from their hands and shelves. Who could possibly be behind the thievery?

Eliza, determined to solve the mystery, assembles a stack of volumes to tempt the culprit. When he takes the bait, she finds herself face to face with the guilty party—a wee creature with wings, a billowy tail and a melancholy demeanor, who admits that he’s a “Snatchabook” and confesses to his crime: “I know it’s wrong, but can’t you see—I’ve got no one to read to me!”

Eliza soon reforms the Snatchabook, and, while the inhabitants of Burrow Down snooze, he replenishes their denuded shelves. In the end, the mischievous little outsider becomes a part of the book-loving community. Best of all, he’s read to regularly by Eliza.

The Snatchabook is a tale that feels wonderfully old-fashioned (high praise these days!). Helen Docherty employs a Seuss-inspired writing style, complete with clever rhymes, and Thomas Docherty brings Burrow Down to life through his antic watercolor illustrations. He packs the pages with wonderful details (check out the cool carrot design on Eliza’s bedside lamp), and his large-eyed animals are adorable.

Parents, prepare yourselves: Burrow Down is a place the little ones will want to visit again and again.

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