The Snail with the Right Heart by Maria Popova (Enchanted Lion Books, New York, Illustrated by Ping Zhu) is a gorgeously illustrated picture book combines art, science and emotion to tell a fascinating tale that dates back to creation itself.
The book starts off at the point in the history of the world where life began. Due to the process of mutation, how life sprung up from non-life. As ‘cosmic time’ passed, snails took to the earth. And was it a cosmic play of destiny that led a human to discover one particular snail? A retired scientist from London’s Natural History Museum started off a series of events, whose significance he could never have imagined. On a walk, he discovered a snail that looked different in that its shell spiralled in the opposite direction, that is, left instead of right. Off he sent the snail to Doctor Angus, who was an expert, and who nicknamed him Jeremy.
How did the whole world get together in searching for the ‘right’ mate for this unique snail? Was the mate found? The story maintains a strong momentum, all at while, touching the reader deeply through the words and the illustrations.
This is a book that is wondrous in nature for adults as well. I would never have imagined talking about concepts like mutation, beginning of life or cosmic time, dominant and recessive genes and so on to a young child. But the ease with which Maria Popova communicates even the most complex of ideas right to the readers heart, is a marvel!
Best of all, the wonderful description of reproduction is mesmerizing. The magic of words makes the description of the process of mating mentioned in the book, seem like a work of art! Moreover, these are so delicately interwoven in the story and the artwork, that one feels as if they were always so easy to understand.
“This is how it happens: When a snail finds a partner,
the two face each other, gently touching tentacles to see
if they like each other. And if they do, they glide their
bodies alongside one another in a slow double embrace,
until their baby-making parts fit together like puzzle pieces.
Then, they gently pierce each other with tiny spears called
“love darts,” which contain their genes — the building
blocks of bodies.”From The Snail with the Right Heart by Maria Popova
The author runs the perceptive blog called Brainpickings. You may want to read about and delight in the glorious images of the book here.
The Snail with the Right Heart by Maria Popova breezes through the world of timeless picture books and gently finds its niche there!