The Snatchabookby Helen Docherty, Thomas Docherty (Website)
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on October 1, 2013
Genres: Children, Picture Book
Amazon • Goodreads
Where have all the bedtime stories gone?
One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down...when a Snatchabook flew into town.
It's bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.
Throughout Burrow Down, mommies and daddies are settling their children into bed and reading them bedtime stories. Suddenly everyone’s books start to disappear, and brave rabbit Eliza Brown decides to get to the bottom of the book thefts by setting a trap for the bandit to catch him in the act. While she finds the culprit, who happens to be called a Snatchabook, his reasons for taking all of the books are heartbreaking: he has no one to read to him, so he acts out by making it so no one else can be read to either.
The Snatchabook has beautiful illustrations by Thomas Docherty in subdued night tones that really bring the forest dwelling animals to life in their burrows and log homes. The rhyming and the way the words flow makes the text flow easily off your tongue. The story itself is wonderful, focusing on the power of sharing, asking when you need something instead of just taking it, and righting the wrong you have done. But most of all, The Snatchabook highlights how wonderful and important it is to just spend some time at the end of the day reading with your child. The time that I spend reading with my four year old son is one of the favorite parts of my day.
Now on to the guest post by author Helen Docherty on the inspiration behind the Snatchabook character.
Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).
The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cosy bedtime world of Burrow Down. When you read to your own children and see their faces light up when they’re listening to a good story, the idea of any child being excluded from that experience is almost unbearable.
Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed. Here are his earliest sketches:
Such wonderful illustrations, Thomas! The Snatchabook is such a fascinating creature.
Thank you, Helen, for stopping by and sharing your inspiration behind the Snatchabook, and for giving us a glimpse at Thomas’ original sketches.