The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister
(Cape Childrens, 2015)

The Tin Snail

by Cameron McAllister

This is the story of a brave little car that helped to win a war.

In the 1940s world of elegant, luxury automobiles, the Tin Snail is no beauty. But it’s facing a tough challenge:

to carry a farmer and his wife,

a flagon of wine

and a tray of eggs

across a bumpy field in a sleepy French village

- without spilling a drop or cracking a shell.

And then an even bigger challenge comes along - staying hidden from an officer of the occupying Nazi army, who is bent on stealing the design for the enemy!

Loosely inspired by real events, with ingredients from the best children’s favourites (a dash of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, a pinch of HUGO, and a sprinkling of DAD’S ARMY) this debut novel from successful screenwriter Cameron McAllister is set to be a classic hit and a fun, big-hearted read for the whole family this summer.


A fantastic family read; this is a story with a big heart based on an amazing idea. . . This is easily one of my favourite books so far this year - a brilliant and magical read that will stay with me until the day that I die. It is a great debut story with bags of drive and vroom.”
- Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books
- The Guardian
Refreshingly different and very engaging . . . There is so much to enjoy in this book.”
- Reading Zone
A delightful book.”
- Historical Novel Society
I loved this delightful novel. It's intended for middle grade readers but people of all ages will love it.”
- The Bookbag
I honestly never thought I’d find myself reading, let alone taken with, a book about the making of a French motor car but The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister is a thoroughly engaging read. It manages to turn the struggle to invent the Citroen as the first people’s car, and then to keep its design from the German invaders, into a story of the Resistance, which is saying something. Plus it has a human element: the plot revolves round the designer’s young son, and his wan hopes that the car will help his parents stay together. Illustrated with panache in pen and ink by Sam Usher.”
- Spectator
Feel-good, funny, romping, filmic adventure”
- Sunday Times
A fresh and madcap novel . . . Half-silly, half-serious and full of human interest, The Tin Snail brings 10- to 14-year-olds into endearing and unusual company.”
- Wall Street Journal
McAllister effectively turns what could have been a humdrum story about car design into a real page-turner and a daring tale . . . A feel-good story about the French Resistance that might very well inspire more than a few designers and engineers.”
- School Library Journal