Title: The Biggest House in the World
Author/Illustrator: Leo Lionni
Review by: Noisette's Maman
Cautionary tale within a tale about a small snail who wants to have the biggest shell. He ignores the advice of his father and learns to 'twist and twitch' until his house gets bigger, then 'moves his tail swiftly from left to right' to grow large bulges on it, then 'squeezes and pushes and wishes very hard' to create stripes and swirls. Everyone's impressed with the shell and thinks it's a cathedral or a circus but when the cabbage the snails live on is completely eaten the main character's house is so big that he can't move along to the next one. "With nothing to eat he slowly faded away. Nothing remained but the house. And that too, little by little crumbled until nothing remained." Yikes! As a child I checked this out of the library over and over and over again. Of course as a kid I didn't get the Taoist message about a streamlined lifestyle or even the creepiness of just slowly fading away. The illustrations are great and I think tha'ts what I liked about it years ago but the paperback version I have currently doesn't do them justice.
[ed note: I'd totally forgotten about this book. I am a huge Lionni fan, I have to say, but boardbooks don't do him justice, either.]