The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart

Most book stores do not have a section labelled “Simply Enchanting”, but they ought to, and this book definitely falls into that category of undefinable magic (mixed with true science) that will no doubt make it a contemporary classic for young readers—and everyone young at heart too.

The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story by Maria Popova with illustrations by Ping Zhu is a children’s book that holds a fascinating story with down-to-earth wisdom alongside soaring wonder of the ages within its covers. (And if you’re a book printing/design geek like me, you’ll notice that not only the stunning pages, but even the end papers of the covers are delicately and brilliantly illustrated. The tiny details of book production, along with the inner workings of tiny gliding snails zing me.) Three years in the making, the book is quite timely, especially in these times:

“A love story, a time story, an invitation not to mistake difference for defect and to welcome, across the accordion scales of time and space, diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.” – Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s name is familiar if you’re a reader of her fabulous BrainPickings site where she mesmerizes us all with her passionate and poetic writings about all things books, art, design, poetry, music, marvels, philosophy: LIFE.

Popova is after my own heart here when she describes so wonderfully what I have long felt about the best of children’s books:

“Great children’s books move young hearts, yes, but they also move the great common heart that beats in the chest of humanity by articulating in the language of children, which is the language of simplicity and absolute sincerity, the elemental truths of being: what it means to love, what it means to be mortal, what it means to live with our fragilities and our frissons. As such, children’s books are miniature works of philosophy, works of wonder and wonderment that bypass our ordinary resistances and our cerebral modes of understanding, entering the backdoor of consciousness with their soft, surefooted gait to remind us who and what we are.” – Maria Popova

There’s more to Popova’s behind-the-scenes about writing this gem, as well as more photos of the gorgeous inside pages of the book here.

And while we’re on the subject of snails, and because it’s the day before Valentine’s, I’ll leave you with a little poem I wrote back in 2014 about embracing the spirit of snails and all they can teach us about unexpected blessings of perspective, whether we’re in full tilt hummingbird-heartbeat doings mode or embracing the reminders of slow and steady rhythms of just being that come our way … Happy Heart Day All! ❤️❤️❤️

OF SNAILS AND TRAILS
by Paula Boyd Farrington

 

I read about Totem Animals
whose essence shows The Way
The article said if you don’t know yours,
Be aware: it will somehow speak to you; show up during your day
 
And there you were
when I went out to the car
In plain view—a darling little snail
On the rear view mirror: driver’s side
 
Oh no, I groan …
I don’t want my totem to be a SNAIL!
Sluggish. Slow. Escargot.
No, thank you. No. Just … no.
 
But there you are again
In the evening dusk
climbing outside the kitchen window,
seemingly everywhere I look.
 
Oh my. Not what I wanted to see.
Why couldn’t I have glimpsed a National Geographic Gazelle?
A Lion. A Jaguar. A Hawk. A Flamingo!
Something powerful or exotic. Oh hell.
 
But there you are.
Carrying your likeness of a gratitude symbol
upon your mandala of a spiral shell,
your home right with you, wherever you may dwell.
 
Let me look closer, your antennae sweeping out
Stretching forward, inquisitively sensing the air
I watch you quietly know where you’re going,
on your own glossy path, climbing here and there.
 
Let me rethink this tiny powerhouse of Now
to warm to What Is
seeing anew the natural grace
In everything that lives.
 
This little snail is more than cute,
It fulfills an important role
Recycles organic matter,
Strong and steady it goes and goes.
 
And your giant ocean cousin?
All pink lipped with curvy shell,
known as an aphrodisiac,
her majesty feeds the islands well.
 
Named the Queen Conch.
She sometimes sports a pearl.
A royal snail in aqua seas
Classic beauty, a crown of whorls.
 
So can I embrace this totem tale?
As a celebration of gentler slower trails?
Of gliding along smoothly through time & tide?
The heart’s humble wisdom says: oh, snail—be mine! ❤️
Paula Boyd Farrington ©2014Oh! And one last time-oriented p.s. … I had the pleasure of getting to create the art for the cover of this Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue coffee table book (and wrote a poem inside about my first flight to Exuma!). The book is filled with gorgeous photos by Alessandro Sarno, holding a reverent gaze on life in this beautiful chain of islands surrounded by some of the most stunning clear ocean waters anywhere. It’s perfect for anyone who loves The Bahamas or whose heart wants to visit. The publisher is offering a 20% discount through Valentine’s Weekend. Link to the site is here.

 

Enjoy & see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

 

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4 Comments on “The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart”

  1. Debra Farrington-Erickson Says:

    Love your poem ❣️

  2. Meg Evans Says:

    Beautiful cover art! And the snail poem, aww. 💗 Yes, there is much to be learned from nature, even a simple animal like a snail.

    My totem animal once was a butterfly, many years ago. Just a common yellow butterfly, wandering happily from one place to another while feeling confident that the world was full of abundance.

    Then I grew old enough to realize how much was wrong in the world, and I got involved in activism. During that period my totem animal was a rattlesnake. I literally saw it sometimes at the edge of my vision, coiling in triangular patterns of bright primary colors. Modern medical science would label that as ocular migraines, I suppose, although I never asked for a diagnosis. It was disruptive because I couldn’t read or drive until it went away (about 20 minutes) but I took it as nature’s way of telling me to slow down, stay in the moment, and be aware.

    I haven’t seen the rattlesnake in a decade or so, and I don’t feel as if I have a totem animal anymore. But, as you say, another one will show itself when the time is right.


    • Meg — thank you so much — and I love hearing about both the butterfly and the rattlesnake totems that appeared on your path!! It’s so true what you said about how the energy and essences can shift in different phases of life. I had a significant yellow butterfly pop up many years ago too … still does from time to time. So enjoyed reading this and being in touch here. Will be interesting to see when another totem shows up, when the time is right. Blog e-smiles and thanks again for this note!


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