Friday, December 5, 2008

Wolfsnail by Sarah C. Campbell - review

Wolfsnail by Sarah C. Campbell
This should totally be the new series by Erin Hunter.
Grayshell and Slimie have finally found TrembleFoot's old territory under the composter, but Grayshell fears that all of his/her Broodmates have been killed or captured by Beakfaces. Slimie insists that they keep looking, and an old friend helps point the two snails on the path that the Broods followed many moons ago. S-l-o-w-l-y they continue their quest.

Right? I mean, anybody but me sick of those cats? No? Huh. I'm going to get a lot of hate mail, aren't I. Oh well.

Ok so Wolfsnail is not fiction. There will not be multiple sequelae. Wolfsnail: the Sliming, Part 4: The Robins Return: Red-breasted Death from Above is not in the offing. But I adore this book. It looks like your standard 32-page species monograph, and it is, really. Your first- or second-grader will get a short but pithy glimpse into the habits of the predatory wolfsnail, which eats other snails and slugs. Two sentences and one big photograph per page. But the prose! It's the music from Jaws:
"It climbs up.
Does the wolfsnail bite into a crisp hosta leaf?
No. Most land snails, such as this one, eat plants.
The wolfsnail eats meat."
"The wolfsnail turns to follow the trail.
It moves faster than other snails."
Dun-dun dun-dun!

And it's not like the author is being facetious. From the Acknowledgments we learn that Sarah C. Campbell is a wolfsnail True Believer - she keeps the little buggers, and she and her husband took all the (very beautiful) pictures. She has clearly spent many, many hours observing them, in the process becoming fascinated as only an invertebrate can fascinate.

Why is that? People will watch an ant farm for ages. Beekeepers are maniacs. Really. Maniacs. No exceptions. And have you ever known a marine biologist who could look at any other animal once he or she had spent some time with an octopus? I know I haven't.

So let's hear it for the wolfsnail, freaky little hermaphroditic carnivore. He/she has already claimed one children's book author and her husband, and now one reviewer and her husband - read this book and join us.

Join us.

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