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Snails are fascinating creatures that are often overlooked. When I discovered the children's book Snails Are Just My Speed! by Kevin McCloskey on a list of great science and nature books from 2018, I knew I needed to get my hands on it.

Part of the Giggle and Learn series, this title combines fun illustrations with serious information about snails.

The first thing I love is that Keven McCloskey put the eyes where they should be, on the eye stalks or tentacles. Yes!

The second thing I love is that he puts in a lot of mucus for the "ick, gross" factor, but also adds useful information, like humans make mucus too, but it is mostly on the inside.

The thing I love most? The awesome lesson on how to draw a snail in the back! (Turn the page for useful tips for parents and teachers about "How To Read Comics With Kids.")

The books in this series are marketed as beginning readers, which may discourage some older children from picking them up. That would be too bad because they have potential to appeal to a larger range of ages.

Snails Are Just My Speed! should fly off the shelves. Check out a copy today!

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: TOON Books (May 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 194314527X
ISBN-13: 978-1943145270

Snails can be humorous? Yes, they can.

This is me on Monday morning.

Do I have to get up?

Argh, it is too bright out.

Okay, if I must get up I will.

Now, where did I put my coffee?

If you want some more serious science try our previous posts:

Adult readers might be interested in the memoir that Kevin McCloskey says inspired him, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. It reveals how her long recovery from a devastating illness was helped by observing a snail.

 

Publisher: Green Books; Later prt. edition (September 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1900322919
ISBN-13: 978-1900322911

A writing friend recently introduced me to the cutest fiction picture book about a snail, Escargot by Daska Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson.

You can see for yourself. Sophia reads the entire book in this video:

Although I usually feature nonfiction, fiction children's books like this one may also inspire us to investigate scientific questions.

For example:

Do snails eat carrots?

Yes, they do. When we raised them years ago, our brown garden snails ate carrots. It was easy to find videos of other kinds of snails eating carrots, too.

What is a snail's mouth like?

A snail scrapes off food with a radula, which has teeth like a saw blade.

Do snails really have eyes?

Yes, but not where they are shown in the book.

The snail eyes are the black spots at the ends of the upper feelers or tentacles.

What are those other things sticking out of a snail's head?

The lower feelers or tentacles help the snail taste or smell its food.

Where do snails come from?

 

Adult snails lay eggs.

Tiny baby snails hatch out of the eggs, complete with tiny shells. Their shells get bigger as they grow.

Would a snail really like vinaigrette on its salad?

No, the vinegar in the vinaigrette could harm a snail.

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Did reading the book Escargot give you any questions about snails? If so, we'd love to hear them.

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Did you flip a rock today? Below are photographs of what I discovered. As soon as I get linked up with Wanderin' Weeta, I will post a list of the participants so you can see what everyone found.

The rocks:

A pile of what we call "river rocks" used to stabilize a drainage area. This particular area is mowed grass, so it is irrigated often.

You would expect to find an isopod (also called rolypoly or pillbug), after all there's one on the International Rock Flipping Day badge.

But what is that with the isopod?

What is that brownish coiled object in the lower right of the photograph?

It is a tiny snail! There's another with its head out.

It's blurry, but definitely a snail. Finding snails is amazing in this hot, dry climate.

The snail wasn't the only one carrying it's house.

What is the gray object that looks like a small tube of mud? It is moving!

There is some sort of insect larva inside.

I think it is a beetle larva carrying a case. It is most likely a member of the leaf beetle family (Cryptocephalinae). It probably got washed to the drainage area during a recent storm.

Another tiny beetle scurries away.

Mites were common. Here's a brightly colored one.

Spiders were also abundant. This tiny jumping spider seems to have its eyes on something.

Maybe it was trying to catch one of these Indian house cricket nymphs.I don't envy any predator that hunts these.

I know I had trouble capturing them with my camera. The springtails that were everywhere were even worse. I never did get a photograph of them.

Finally, I did find some ants. I posted those results at Wild About Ants.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of creatures I found. And in addition to finding different kinds, I also learned a little bit more about my neighbors that live under rocks.

Did you flip any rocks this weekend? What did you find?

For more information about the creatures featured here try:

Isopods

Indian house crickets

Jumping spiders

Mites

Snails and raising snails