Snutt the What?

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I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren, so I’ve never had to outgrow my love for what we, when I took a Library Science class, called “Kiddie Lit”. Oh, who am I kidding? I never did and never will outgrow my love for kids’ books. I love ’em, from picture books to Young Adult. I even liked the first book in the Twilight series. What was the name of that book? Oh, yeah–TWILIGHT. Duh.

ANYWAY, one of the things I love about picture books is — guess what? — Yeah, the pictures. One of my favorite illustrators is Raymond Briggs, who did the earthy yet ethereal pictures for THE SNOWMAN. I recommend it to your attention.

Now comes Helen Ward, who studied under Briggs (among others), with an enchanting book called, in America, after the main character, SNUTT THE IFT. The original British publication was called WONDERFUL LIFE, but the American publisher may have been afraid that Americans are too stupid to know the difference between a watercolor painting of an imaginary creature on an alien planet and Jimmy Stewart.

Be that as it may, SNUTT THE IFT is purely beautiful, or as purely beautiful as anything can be which also contains little bits of mischievous humor. When you look at these illustrations, as Joanna Carey of The Guardian put it, “you think about where illustration stops and fine art begins.”

Miss Ward reminds me, warranted or not, in her Guardian interview, of a certain Miss Potter in her retiring self-effacement and in her love of animals and the outdoors. In contrast to Miss Potter, she prefers her animals to look and dress — or, rather, fail to dress — like animals.

Miss Ward wrote WONDERFUL LIFE / SNUTT THE IFT as well as illustrating it. The subjects it addresses, directly and indirectly, are dear to my heart: the beauty of diversity, the importance of mindful presence, the necessity of connection and the transcendent joy of friendship.

But don’t just take my word for it.Ā  Get a load of this:

This is a book to add to your library, whether you have a child in your life or only in your heart.

You can buy it at Little Pickle Press. Aaand, this just in from the promotional Pickle: “Be sure to enter the grand prize drawing for NINE Little Pickle Press books including the two foreign-language titles. What a great gift for some lucky child. Just sign up for the newsletter at to automatically be entered. While you’re there, look at all the award-winning books. Good luck!”

WRITING PROMPT: What was your main character’s favorite picture book when he or she was a child? What was yours? Why?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Snutt the What?

  1. Rana DiOrio

    December 9, 2011 at 10:05am

    Helen Ward’s illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful, but as words are my craft, I also admire her colorful lexicon. Any way you view this book, it is a must-have for your collection. Thanks so much, Marian. ~ Rana

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  2. Dani G.

    December 9, 2011 at 10:11am

    I don’t know if I can name a favorite, having grown up with books like Struwelpeter which must be one of the most dreadful children’s books ever! I’ll always be a Velveteen Rabbit fan, and anything with lush illustration grabs me. Snutt is right up there. Marian, you have a hysterically wicked sense of humor! LOL.

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  3. barak

    December 9, 2011 at 10:26am

    My fav child hero was peter pan! this guy could fly! when i was a child, flying people was so fresh! i expected for peter pan chapter all day!
    i liked also the pictuers on the book pictuers šŸ™‚ i explain them to my nephews the way i desire šŸ™‚

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  4. tony

    December 9, 2011 at 11:50am

    Favorites are tough to choose, as I had my own growing up and was then introduced to a whole new set of them as I got to be Uncle Tony. I guess I would have to go with Mr. Gumpy from John Burningham. I still really enjoy children’s books, and Snutt the Ift is such a richly illustrated book with a very poignant and timeless message. A good addition to any collection.

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  5. Author

    Marian Allen

    December 9, 2011 at 12:16pm

    @Rana DiOrio – They are beautiful. And I had fun looking for the eyes-on-stalks and other little “funnies” sprinkled through it. This is a book that child and adult can enjoy together in many ways over many readings.

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  6. Author

    Marian Allen

    December 9, 2011 at 12:18pm

    @Dani G. – I didn’t come to The Velveteen Rabbit until I had a child of my own. I think my childhood picture books were Little Golden Books. My favorite was The Pokey Little Puppy for reasons which anyone who has had to wait for me to do something will understand.

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  7. Author

    Marian Allen

    December 9, 2011 at 12:19pm

    @barak – Peter Pan-YES! I tried thinking lovely, wonderful thoughts and flying. Fortunately for me, my mama didn’t raise a fool, and I only jumped off the footstool and not the roof. p.s. It didn’t work.

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  8. Author

    Marian Allen

    December 9, 2011 at 12:23pm

    @tony – I don’t know Mr. Grumpy, except from the Roger Hargreaves “Mr. Men” series.

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  9. Dani G.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:07pm

    I learned to speak English with Dick & Jane and still love those books! Hahaha. I forgot that until this discussion.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 9, 2011 at 1:41pm

      The younger generation have nothing to make fun of. “Run, Forrest, run!” is just that much less funny for them.

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  10. lisa brackmann

    December 9, 2011 at 4:41pm

    Oh, this looks gorgeous! I have a little kidlet I need to get a book for…I’m buying it!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 9, 2011 at 4:52pm

      You’ll be so glad you did! If this doesn’t become a classic, it ought to.

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