Dad: The mailman brought us this wonderful book. We sure have a nice mailman.
Gracie (age 8): Mail Lady.
Isaac (age 10): It's a girl.
Dad: She keeps bringing us nice things. This is "The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail."
Isaac: It's cool.
Lily (age 6): I like it.
Dad: Do you guys know anything about snails?
Lily: They leave a track. A slimy track. And they are slow.
Dad: We don't really have snails around where we live, do we?
Isaac: We only have slugs.
Lily: Is a snail like a slug with a shell on it?
Dad: This is a good book for beginning readers. It's a chapter book...
Lily: ...but every chapter is just a few pages.
Dad: And there are pictures - big pictures - on every page.
Isaac: It looks look like a Chapter Picture Book. It's a picture book and a chapter book mixed together.
Lily: It's about a snail and his track. Seymour Snail.
Dad: And Seymour was a...
Dad: Ha. He was a snail. "Seymour Snail, he was a snail."
Gracie: Ha ha ha!
Dad: And he was a...
Isaac: He likes to paint, but he's shy about letting his friends see it. Then this big gust of wind blows all the art out of its hiding places. Then his friends see it and think it's really good.
Dad: Do you guys ever get shy about your art?
Isaac: I don't like letting people see me drawing fish, because I'm bad at fish.
Gracie: Oh, I think you are good at fish.
Lily: When I try to make a 'possum, it looks horrible, that's why I never show anybody.
Gracie: I like letting people see my art. I even show them my bad pictures.
Dad: Why do you think Seymour is shy about his art?
Gracie: Because he's a snail.
Lily: After his friends see his paintings, Seymour wanted to get a job as an artist.
Gracie: So he gets the phone and starts calling people for an art job. The first guy he called said, "You can have a job cooking escargot. You can cook the snails." But Seymour was a snail so he goes "Ahhhhhghhhh!" And then he almost got a job painting dead bugs for the pest control. But Seymour was a snail so he goes "Ahhhhhghhhh!" again.
Lily: Finally he got a job at the Speedy Art Gallery.
Gracie: Yeah, even though he was a snail.
Isaac: There is this mean old stink bug there. He makes him do all this stuff.
Gracie: Seymour had to seal shut envelopes and go up a million hundred stairs to deliver a painting.
Lily: The stink bug is grouchy and mean!
Gracie: He's stinky. He stinks literally, and he stinks in attitude. Both ways. Literally -- he's smelly. And he stinks in attitude -- he's very mean.
Dad: But would that be fun -- to get a job at an art gallery?
Gracie: Yes. I like making art and being around other people's art.
Dad: This is a good book for you guys, because Seymour is an artist...
Lily: And we are artists! And he has great art.
Gracie: Seymour could make a slimy trail that was glittery.
Lily: So he finally got a job as an artist, making pretty snail goo trails.
Gracie: Everyone saw the slimy trail he made. They thought it was pretty and shiny, and then Seymour became a famous artist.
Dad: Would you like it if you left behind a big slimy, glittery trail everywhere you walked?
Isaac: No way. Then in hide-and-go-seek we would always be found first.
Dad: Is there anything else that we as humans might think is disgusting, but animals themselves might think is beautiful? Remember when we were watching "Planet Earth" the other day? What did those birds make their nests out of?
Gracie: Saliva. And that's the main ingredient of bird nest soup. Bird saliva. Which is spit. Dad, put this in the review as a warning so no one eats it.
Dad: You eat honey. Bees make slimy goo, and you love it.
Isaac: Hey Dad, there's one thing I don't understand. In the book, why did the bugs have such big stairs? Why don't they make them bug sized? Since bugs were the only ones that were going up and down them?
Dad: That's a good question... I don't know. Well, the book mixes and matches. Some of this takes place in a "bug world." Like the cockroach's/gallery owner's door.
Gracie: And the art they make. And the bug's briefcase.
Dad: Right. But part of the story is also in the "people world." Like the chef and the pest control lady. Even the envelopes Seymour licks aren't bug sized envelopes. They are people sized envelopes.
Isaac: And the telephone.
Dad: Right, the telephone is a "people telephone." How do you think Seymour took that giant telephone off the receiver?
Isaac: HA ha ha! I don't know!
Gracie: Hee hee hee! And how does he push the buttons on a gi-normous phone anyway?
Dad: See, some of those things are funny. Is this supposed to be a serious book?
Gracie: No, ho ho ho ho!
Dad: Some stuff is just funny. So it's a mishmash. Some of it is bugs living in a "people world," and some of it is bugs living in a "bug world." They use whatever makes the most sense for each particular scene in the story.
Isaac: Maybe bugs took over half the world.
Gracie: It's really funny the way the guy made the pictures.
Dad: Doug Cushman made them.
Gracie: They are cooooool.
Dad: And Lynn E. Hazen wrote it. Did you read her other book too?
Lily: Yeah! Cinder Rabbit!
Dad: Is there anything you can think of that is similar between the two books?
Gracie: Yes. They are both Chapter-Picture Books.
Dad: And they are both about creative pursuits. Cinder Rabbit is about acting and dancing...
Gracie: ...and Seymour is about painting with slime goo.
Lily: And both characters think they can't do something. Cinder Rabbit thinks she can't hop, and Seymour thinks he can't get a job as an artist. But they learn that they can!
Dad: Why do you think she wrote these books that have similar messages?
Gracie: To encourage kids!
Dad: Why do kids need to be encouraged?
Gracie: Sometimes people think they can't do something. Like, I once thought that I couldn't do a headstand, but then I practiced it, and I learned how to do a headstand.
Dad: Are you encouraged to try anything after reading these books? Squeezing goo out?
Gracie: No! Ha ha ha ha!
Lily: I'm encouraged to try to get a job.
Dad: Get a job?!
Gracie: HA HA ha ha ha ha!
Dad: Alright, go get the phone...
Gracie: Cook escargot!
Lily: No... I want to be an artist.
Lily: What's the phone number?
Isaac: That's not going to happen.
Dad: Well, Lynn Hazen says You can do it!
Gracie: You can do it, baby!
Author: Lynn E. Hazen
Illustrator: Doug Cushman
Published, 2009: Henry Holt
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