The Tin Snail

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The Tin Snail

The Tin Snail is an engrossing middle grade novel set in France during Word War II.

13 year old Angelo lives with his dad in France. They savour thick black coffees and sweet pastries as part of their morning ritual. They also share something else in common – their passion for cars.

Angelo’s dad is a car designer, one of the best.

‘The workshop was my favourite place in the whole world. Stepping inside was like finding you’d strayed into the laboratory of some fiendish wizard.’

Angelo isn’t having much luck, after an incident at at the Paris Motor Show in which he, urm, kind of destroyed his dad’s latest creation … ‘Flattened, to be precise.’ Angelo is now determined to help his dad succeed with a new design.

Their aim is to design a car that will make France proud, proving to their competitors once and for all that they are the best car designers.

Lack of money due to the threat of war means luxury cars are out, practical affordable vehicles are needed, cue … the tin snail! A turning point in car production and design.

‘The car that had started out as a lopsided pastry. I stepped towards it, spellbound. It was unique.’

The duo’s repeated attempts to pull together a car with few resources produces many laugh out loud moments;
‘Clattering dementedly towards the gate, we bounced through a puddle, squirting frozen mud up our front and completely covering father’s goggles.’
McAllistar’s narrative is compelling, making this a great novel to read out loud. He carefully balances the humour with the very real angle of the war. As the Germans move into France the impact of their presence is keenly felt.
The Tin Snail is a secret and must be hidden from the Germans at all costs. The narrative conveys the strength of the small French village as they protect each other and Angelo’s design when the Nazis descend. (I won’t reveal how … no spoilers here!)
The different layers make The Tin Snail a wonderful read. Great characters, and a well paced plot means this is a great one for middle grade readers to get stuck into.

Cameron McAllister
Random House

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