Retold by: Geri Keams
Illustrated by: Richard Ziehler-Martin
Published in 1998
Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book
Grade Level: 2-5
Summary: Snail Girl Brings Water is a retelling of a traditional Navajo creation myth. In the story, the people and animals have just arrived in this world due to a flood in their old world. Upon arriving they find an ocean but no clean water, so animals are sent back into the old world to retrieve enough water for the First Woman to create streams and rivers. Different animals try, and fail, until Snail girl comes along. It takes her a long time, but she eventually succeeds and the people finally have clean water. The story strives to explain a few natural phenomenons, such as why turtles have shells, why snails leave trails of moisture behind them, and how clean water came into the world.
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I had originally expected. I picked it up because I wanted to add some legends or myths to my pile of library books. The picture on the front was a bit weird, and I liked the title, so I decided to give it a try.
So why did I have low expectations for this book? It’s not that I doubted that the story would be interesting, it’s that I thought I wouldn’t really like the illustrations. If you’ve been following this blog, you might have noticed that I prefer books with bright, eye-catching colors. When I first picked up this book, the first thing I noticed on the cover (besides how weird the snail girl looked) was the color palette. The story takes place in a desert, so I assumed all of the pictures would be in those (boring) earthy tones. I was wrong. The book was full of beautiful scenery illustrations, both in the desert and underwater. The characters (almost all of which are animals) were really detailed and interesting to look at. All of the colors inside the book were really rich and beautiful, looking nothing like the muted (and boring) colors on the cover.
As for the story itself? It was really fun. I loved how the origins of the features of certain animals were explained. For example, turtles have shells because the water bottle wore a hole in the back of the original turtle. He tried to cover it up with shells, and ended up loving his new “shell armor.” I really liked all of the different “origins” in this tale.
Final Thoughts: This book was very entertaining, from the story to the illustrations. The creation myth in this book is very interesting, and I would like to read more Native American creation stories in the future. The cover may have been boring, but the rest of the book was fantastic! Don’t judge this book by its cover!
I give Snail Girl Brings Water 5 stars.