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The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

The Snatchabook: Who’s stealing all the stories?

The Snatchabook, Who's Stealing All The Stories? by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

The Snatchabook, Who’s Stealing All The Stories? by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

“So wonderful it demands to be read out loud.”
– Brian Selznick,
Caldecott Medalist, author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

What’s not to love about a picture book that conveys a heartwarming message about bedtime stories and the simple joy of reading together? In The Snatchabook, (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, $16.99, ages 3 and up) by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty, a book I’ve seen on bookstore shelves everywhere I go, readers will be immediately pulled in by the images of animal families settling down for the night in warm, glowing rooms.

Welcome to Burrow Down, invitingly depicted by T. Docherty, a quaint forest community dotted with cozy tree hollow homes, mole holes and rabbit warrens. Nighttime is a special time to hear all sorts of tales, a time when children are ready to let their imaginations soar. But suddenly all the bedtime books begin disappearing right before everyone’s eyes. H. Docherty wastes no time in setting the stage for a great mystery, though a subtle clue is given in the second spread (hint: look near the moon). Who is stealing all the stories?

Enter Eliza Brown, a bunny determined to catch the thief red-handed, or winged, because she really hasn’t the slightest idea who or what the culprit could be! Eliza sets a trap using a pile of books as bait and waits … and waits. When at last a long shadow appears, she braves the unknown and conquers her fear shouting:

“Stop stealing all our books,
right now!
Just give them back,
I don’t care how!”

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Sample interior artwork from The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

Hovering just outside the window is a small, rodent-like creature with dragonfly wings, a long skinny tale and large, lonely eyes appealing to Eliza for forgiveness, “I’m just a little Snatchabook.” Snatchabook didn’t mean to swipe all the books, he explains to Eliza. He simply had no one to read them to him. In a wonderfully satisfying ending, H. Docherty has Eliza teaming up with the Snatchabook to right his wrongs, return all the books while finding a few good bedtime story readers to feed his imagination and soul.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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