I had an idea. Instead of giving you a thorough description of Snupsi, I will do something else instead. Below are two parts from the beginning of the book, which I hope will give you enough bits and pieces of Snupsi’s character for starters and perhaps raise some curiosity to dig deeper into the story and evoke desire get to know him more.
In the evening, the Juniper Island beach was quiet and dreamily peaceful. The waves gently coming ashore and the laid-back chirping of the grasshoppers among the bulrushes singing their pleasant song was all one could hear. Suddenly the sound of running feet and squealing resounded. The sound became louder, and then faded away, replaced by energetic splashing of water.
There was no doubt that the voices were coming from the fisherman’s wharf. Between the fishermen’s boats at the end of the pier, sat a blue figure making rings in the seawater with his feet. He stopped for a moment, muttered something to himself and kicked up golden beads of water, lit by the glow of the sun.
The solitary figure wore a backpack with yellow pockets on the sides. And when he adjusted it, its contents jangled mysteriously, as if to give a hint of the interesting things inside. Viewed from afar, the figure seemed to have rabbit ears, but upon closer examination, it turned out that he was not a rabbit and those were not rabbit ears. They were weird antennas, the tips of which were a playful orange colour. As he muttered to himself, the antennas moved from side to side, and sometimes his large and inquisitive eyes narrowed, for instance, when he scratched his head.
When the strange bustling figure had finally tired of his pensive splashing, he threw down his backpack, and after rummaging around a bit, took out a round object. It was old and worn with a scratched and yellowed glass dome. Underneath the dome, a tiny metal hand hovered in the air. The hand’s forefinger, which seemed to be outstretched and pointing in a definite direction, was currently pointing to the northern tip of the island. Therefore, it must be a compass. And yet, it didn’t look very much like a compass. The dome was encircled by a metal ring that had tiny trapdoors. Some of the trapdoors were closed. But some were opened revealing various letters. This strange object also had a button extending from one side. When the fellow pushed the button with his little blue thumb, the metal ring started twirling around the dome and the trapdoors rapidly clicked open and shut. The forefinger hovering under the dome, which had been pointing north before, now changed direction and seemed to be pointing, slightly irritatingly, into the distance between the sea and the sky. And it was if the compass knew full well that the little scowler had no way of getting there. But when the metal disk stopped, the hovering finger returned to pointing in the old direction again. The little fellow eyed the compass inquisitively, turned his gaze toward the long wispy clouds reddened by the setting sun, and sighed deeply.
“Ohh, Snupsi, will you ever get there? A place so far-faraway that you can’t even see it with your spyglass?” he asked himself and shook the jangling backpack, as if it could provide an answer.
Snupsi had criss-crossed all of Juniper Island countless times. He knew the location of every ant hill and their exact number. He could even tell you how many steps it took to circle the entire island along the shore – 11,590 steps plus or minus a few hundred. Sometimes it was more, because he ended up walking to a tiny islet that was usually separated from the island by water. In other words, he had already criss-crossed the island in every direction and knew almost everything there was to know about it. But he knew nothing at all about the far-off place that the finger pointed to so alluringly when he pushed the button on the side of the dome. This made Snupsi very anxious. Now he took an old-fashioned spyglass from his bag, the one that his Uncle Helden had given him as a gift, and started looking out to sea. He closed one eye, and the tip of his tongue was pushed into the corner of his mouth in excitement. Seeing that the listless sea had nothing new to offer his curious eye, he lowered the spyglass and stuck out his lower lip in disappointment.
Helden woke up startled in the middle of the night upon hearing an ear-splitting racket. He got out of bed and opened the curtains. He was confronted by a rippling sea of colour that had encompassed the entire sky. And in the centre of it all, a terrifying thunderstorm was raging. Helden had never seen anything like it before. And he certainly had no reasonable explanation for what he was seeing. He had seen dozens, if not hundreds, of northern lights, but he’d never encountered a thunderstorm like this one. The colourful storm was scary but, at the same time, fascinating. And Helden stayed at the window all night to marvel at it. It wasn’t until dawn that the storm subsided and the colours disappeared.
In the morning, Helden was overcome with an inexplicable sense of anxiety, and he didn’t understand why. He made himself a large cup of coffee to perk up, put on his rubber boots and went outside to have a look at the damage that the storm had done.
Broken tree branches, leaves and all kinds of debris were strewn about. Having arrived at the boat dock at the end of his walk, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh and crisp sea air deep into his lungs. Suddenly, he noticed something tiny and blue from the corner of his eye. Not believing his old eyes, he took off his glasses, cleaned the lenses with the sleeve of his lab coat, and looked again. His eyes weren’t playing tricks on him – far off on the sandy beach, a tiny blue toddler was sitting, merrily babbling to himself, and playfully waving his antennas.
Helden stepped off the boat dock and started walking towards him. When he finally reached the tiny creature, he smiled at Helden and started to eagerly explain something in baby talk. Helden sat down next to the toddler and listened to him with a quizzical look on his face. How had this small child ended up alone on the beach?
Helden looked around searchingly and found something sticking out of the sand. It was a small object that looked like an old compass and that could fit in the palm of one’s hand. Helden had never seen anything like it before. He turned the object over, squinted and adjusted his glasses, and was able to read the inscription engraved on it:
“To little Snupsi,
Mom and Dad”
“Hello, little Snupsi. We’ll find your home someday,” Helden said, picking Snupsi up and starting to walk home. “But first we have to figure out what you eat. You sure are funny.”
This was Snupsi’s first day on Juniper Island. But where he came from, and how he got there was a mystery that the islanders had yet to solve.
Below, Snupsi explores different environments. The first is plasticine Snupsi, the second is 3D printed and hand-painted with acrylic colors. The third is an illustration by the talented Mariann Joa, who brought plasticine Snupsi finally onto paper.