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***The End of the Beginning

Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant)

by Avi

with illustrations by Tricia Tusa

Reviewed November 18, 2004.
Harcourt, Orlando, 2004.  144 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF CRE).

“Avon, a rather small snail, read a book every day.  He loved to read because books told him all about the things that creatures did when they went on adventures.”

Avon notices that when the stories ended, the creatures were always happy.  He decides that if he wants to be happy, he should set out on an adventure.  As he sets out, he meets Edward the Ant, and they begin the journey together.

This is a simple story, suitable for readers beginning to read chapter books on their own.  Avon and Edward are simple creatures themselves, and they don’t travel very fast.  Readers enjoy having a better understanding of the “adventures” they encounter than the characters do themselves.  There are some puns and some clever comments about stories and adventures along the way.

My favorite chapter is the one where they look for a dragon.  Edward says, “These days dragons are rather shy.  They disguise themselves to look like other creatures.  You’ll see when we meet one.  They deny it every time.”

The two friends come upon a mouse.  “He certainly doesn’t look like a dragon, does he?” asked Avon.

“That means he probably is one,” said Edward.

The mouse denies it, but they point out that he does have a tail, four feet, a nose, mouth, and two eyes, just like a dragon.

“‘Do you know,’ whispered the astonished mouse, ‘my father never told me I was a dragon.’

“‘Ask your mother,’ suggested Edward.

“‘You’ll have to excuse me,’ said the mouse, who was by then quite excited.  ‘This is all very sudden to me.  I need to go home and tell my friends who I am.’  And off he ran.

“‘Oh dear,’ said Avon as the mouse scampered away.  ‘We forgot to find out if he was a good or a bad dragon.’

“‘He was young,’ said Edward, ‘so he probably hasn’t made up his mind.’

“‘I do hope he decides to become a good dragon,’ said Avon.  ‘The world needs more good dragons.’”

Indeed it does.

Other books by Avi:
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Crispin:  The Cross of Lead
Strange Happenings
Don't You Know There's a War On?

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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