This is the delightful tale of a Scrooge-like Snorgh and an adventurous Sailor who happen to meet one cold, stormy night. 

Set on a wild marshy coastline, the story begins with readers observing the Snorgh’s very specific routine: snuffling along the shoreline, picking samphire, enjoying his fire and his soup in his very lonely house. It looks lonely, but the Snorgh’s philosophy is surprisingly thus: “How lucky I am to have nobody to share my fire… How nice to have my soup to myself.”

So when someone knocks at his door on a dark stormy night, it’s fortunate that the bedraggled little character who appears is not one to be easily dissuaded by the Snorgh’s pessimistic grumbles. He has soon marched into Snorgh’s house, sat in Snorgh’s chair and enjoyed some of Snorgh’s soup and is soon telling Snorgh (despite the Snorgh’s protestations) the story of his great adventures. After a night of wild dreams, the Snorgh is desperate to hear more – he calls out for the Sailor, but the Sailor has gone… and the true adventure begins.

There are so many lovely things about this modern classic for children: the lesson in sharing, the contrast of grumpy loner Snorgh with optimistically naive Sailor, and the joyful encouragement of going outside one’s comfort zone to discover friendship and adventure…

Illustrator Thomas Docherty perfectly conjures up the personalities of these two supremely opposite, yet complementary, characters. The elephant-like Snorgh’s trunk and fur hang disconsolately about his being, his forehead furrowed in fur-fringed waves of worry, while the rabbit-like teensy tiny Sailor’s eyes and ever-sprightly ears bounce brightly across each page. There is also a clever balance of traditional pages with full-spread images contrasted with comic-book shorthand style pages that whip us around the world on all the adventures – perfect for turning the story-telling tables and have children relay the tale.

Author Will Buckingham’s background as a writer of philosophy is apparent in this thought-provoking depiction of two opposing approaches to ‘life, the universe and everything’ and offers up the delightful proposition for children that if they simply try something new (something they have sworn they will never, ever do), they might just get to experience some of the big, fun and friend-inducing adventures that life has to offer. The perfect read for every child, but especially a little stick-in-the-mud character (or in this case, a Snorgh-in-the-swamp) who could do with just a little more adventure…

Author Notes Will Buckingham, senior lecturer in creative writing in the school of humanities at De Montfort University in the UK, and seemingly Renaissance man has also authored a novel, The Descent of the Lyre, a philosophy book, Introducing Happiness, a monograph on the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, called Levinas, Storytelling and Anti-Storytelling, and A Book of Changes, a novel based around the sixty-four hexagrams of the Yijing. 

Illustrator Profile Father of two girls, Thomas Docherty was born in New Zealand but has spent most of his life in England where he went to school before studying metalwork and sculpture at university. After leaving Art College, Thomas lived in Madrid for six years, where he wrote and illustrated his first book Pip and the Lost Dream which has been published in Taiwan, Spain and South Africa. He now lives in Swansea, UK, and has a host of brilliant children’s books under his belt, including Little Boat, Big Scary Monster and the just-released The Snatchabook (co-authored by his wife Helen). He also illustrated The Killer Cat Runs Away by Anne Fine. 

You can also visit The Snorgh and The Sailor’s very own website.

See Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, talk about this book in her round-up of great children’s books at London’s 2012 Book Fair (below, simply click on the arrow). 

Illustrations courtesy of Thomas Docherty.