What a learning experience! Exploring this new world of children’s book publishing has been a BIG adventure! First, I have to begin by apologizing for building the excitement and craze for the release of this book and then making you wait! Second, I have to extend a HUGE thank you for all your support, interest and patience through this process. Serena the Snail reminded me that life is a learning process and we must enter these new adventures with an open mind and a graceful spirit.
Right now we have beautiful large hardback copies of the book that are extremely expensive to make one at a time and all the costs go to printing the book. If you are interested in one of these please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the link. However, if you are not in an hurry, we hope to have ordered a supply of these gorgeous books later this year that will be available for a much more reasonable price. In the meantime, Crystal Publishing is working on re-formatting the book into a paperback version that will be available for buying online soon. I wish I could be more specific then “soon” but I am learning that patience is also an important part of the process. This portable version will be great for learners on the go, environmental educators and the beautiful majority of us who have limited disposable income. It is important that this story and teaching tool is accessible to all learners and educators. Additionally, if you are interested but unable to afford to bring this booking into your learning environment please let me know and I will make sure we get you a copy.
While we wait for the inevitable release of The Curious Little Snail, Serena is encouraging me as I plan out our next big adventure and work on illustrating a grand peacock tail written by local author Ellen Raine.
Serena and I want to thank you all for your presence and encouragement on this epic adventure! It means the world to us.
This week was an awfully big week for Ashley. She started a new job! Exhausted from a week of Spring Break camp at the Gardens on Spring Creek, she asked if I would write the blog this week! I said, ‘Of course!” Sorry it is a day late. I work at a snail's pace.
Phew, traveling with snails is hard work! Imagine trying to explain to TSA that Serena cannot remove her shell before entering the metal detector. After clearing that up, we finally made it to Seattle and ferried over to Bainbridge Island to share her story with the IslandWood alumni community. She was a HUGE hit with all her two legged friends! One lucky guest took own their very own copy and will be reading it in a Seattle preschool this month. Also, as we creeped through the forest, we looked for some of Serena's wild snail friends but had to settle for chatting with her close and distant cousins instead!
All the hidden forest snails around Mac’s Pond and IslandWood alumni listened to Serena’s story as it was read out loud for the first time in front of an audience. Afterwards, we all slowed down and observed our beautiful surroundings by capturing our ideas on watercolor postcards.
The world seems very eager to have their very own copy of The Curious Little Snail! Serena and I are very excited and humbled by all the attention. We are thrilled to let you know that you will not have to wait much longer! We are putting on the finishing touches and plan to release the story to the world around the end of the month. Stay tuned for dates, ordering information and a release party!
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Snail speeds can range from barely noticeable to a recently recorded max speed of 1 meter per hour! A combination of snail mucus and muscle pulses along the bottom, or foot, of the snail makes this movement possible. However they can only move in a forward direction. Land snails use two types of mucus one for sliding and one for sticking. As they slime around eating and learning from their environment they can maximize their speed by following the slime of other snails to conserve energy like NASCAR drivers!
These unique adaptations make them an interesting subject for biomimetic engineering. For instance, if snails can crawl up walls, why not robots? When you look closely at all they can do, I cannot help by think, “Step aside Spiderman, here comes Super Slug Woman!”
How fast are the snails in your garden, pond or ocean moving? Grab your stopwatch and do a little science of your own. Who knows, your snail might even be cut out for the competitive sport of snail racing! Serena’s little brother Sam has been practicing the 13 inch sprint and hopes to compete in London’s Snail Race Championships when he grows up!
Lai, J. H., Juan C. del Alamo, Javier Rodríguez-Rodríguez and Juan C. Lasheras. (2010) The mechanics of the adhesive locomotion of
terrestrial gastropods. Retrieved from http://jeb.biologists.org/content/213/22/3920#sec-12
Patches, M. (2013) Snails Race for Glory, Lettuce. National Geographic retrieved from
The Huffington Post. (2013). Snails' Top Speed Is Revealed In New Study. Retrieved from
“They are so ugly!” they exclaimed.
Indeed, snails and their ‘slugy’ cousins have quite a reputation and are the nemesis of gardeners everywhere. There are a multitude of anti-gastropod strategies. A few summers ago I carefully transplanted a beautiful rhubarb plant into my garden. Rhubarb is gold in my kitchen and my own plant in the garden was a priceless gift. Not soon after it settled into the soil, I found the rhubarb leaves nibbled almost to the stem! Panic set in. I called my aunt, the master gardener, in hopes of finding a solution that would not require killing my small neighbors. They deserve to eat too after all. Per her suggestion, I began a daily regiment of coffee grounds and eggshells around the base of the plant. Thankfully, after a few weeks of this treatment and several mornings spent ‘transporting’ my slimy friends, my rhubarb finally won. Throughout this process, I learned a good deal about my little ravenous neighbors. For instance, the little ones living in my garden were actually European slugs, an invasive species, not the native forest slugs that loved chowing down on decomposing plants, not rhubarb! I wonder what other snail and slug friendly strategies work for frustrated gardeners?
Striving to live peacefully with wildlife was always important to me. So when I am asked, “Why snails?” the answer is simple. When I was searching for a story it was only natural that I embraced this often-misunderstood creature that had a story to share if we only stopped to listen. Working with Serena the snail, I not only increased my empathy towards snails but I hoped that readers might also deepen their imagination about these mysterious creatures. Taking time to practice empathy is important, as research supports that empathy is a motivator of compassionate action. Put simply, if we try to imagine the experience and needs of another we are much more likely to take action to help them. Empathy an emotional state that relies on our ability to perceive, understand and care about the experiences or perspectives of another person or animal. Like all learning, building empathy takes time and must be practiced. One way to increase our empathy is through the telling of stories. Researchers have found that storytelling creates empathic responses as people identify with the characters and a deeper connection is formed. This holds true for snails and humans. If you are interested in reading more about empathy or the best research based practices to develop it, I would love to share more information with you. Email: email@example.com
Two years ago this book was nothing more than a speck of an idea. As an environmental educator in the Pacific Northwest, snails and slugs were regular visitors in my outdoor classroom. The students and myself were enamored with their expressive antennae and curious reaching head that could move excruciatingly slowly yet disappear with lightening speed when scared. These new little friends began showing up in the margins of my notes begging to have their stories told.
I met Serena on a ferry ride from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. She had stowed away under the hood of our car and just as the ferry pushed off from the dock she sneaked out and up onto the windshield. Worried about the future of our little gastropod friend, we discussed what such an adventurous snail might do in the big city. The story began to unfold. I won’t give too much away, as our next book will tell the big city adventure in more detail, but I promise it ends well.
A brave little snail was the perfect character to help me share my new love of science with my elementary students. During school, I learned to be afraid of asking questions. Science had transformed from a joyful process of exploration to a pressure filled exercise of following procedures and replicating results with precise precision. Thankfully, through my graduate studies at IslandWood I was reintroduced to the adventurous world of science. At this magical school in the forest I fell in love again with the heart of science – its unquenchable curiosity, propensity for asking questions and looking for answers.
My hope is that this book will provide a narrative through which parents and teachers can encourage adventure and curiosity in the natural world. In The Curious Little Snail, Serena and her Papa encourage children to think beyond what is the “right” answer or the “correct” response and consider their own questions. As we exercise this open-minded strategy and ask questions before jumping to conclusions we can become better scientists, more thoughtful human beings and maybe discover a few secrets to the universe.
The Curious Little Snail will hit the shelves no later than this summer. This children’s book aims to bring small-scale epic adventures to your living room or classroom. Kids will enjoy the lively images, engaging story and fun characters of Serena and her Papa. Parents and teachers will appreciate the underlying lessons around scientific inquiry, curiosity and asking questions. At the end of each book you will find teaching activities and discussion questions to foster deeper scientific learning, curiosity and wild natural adventures.
Through this weekly blog, Serena and I are excited about sharing snail secrets about gastropods, learning, and getting outside to create your own adventures. We would love for you to subscribe to our blog, look for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for current updates and follow us on Pintrest for fun snail crafts, pictures and learning opportunities! (Follow the links at the bottom of the page)
Till next week my slimy friends!
Ashley and Serena
Author & Illustrator
Ashley M. Young
Bringing her passion for animal conservation and science, Ashley's stories strive to be powerful teaching tools for the parent or teacher. Her characters are often unexpected animals drawn from her experiences as a zoo keeper and environmental educator.
Learn more about her work in art and education here.