I actually had the opportunity to meet Avi in person at a book talk and I told him that my absolute favorite of his books was The End of the Beginning. He sighed resignedly (clearly he has heard that before) and said it was a book he wrote over the course of several days. He was trying to help a friend and aspiring author by telling him how easy it was to write, saying that he could complete a book in one day. He said that although he wasn't quite able to finish it in one day, he did finish it within a week!
It makes complete sense to me that my favorite (sorry, Avi!) of Avi's books, The End of the Beginning, was written in a brief amount of time. The End has a sweet and light touch and there is no evidence of over-thinking and complicating. Its collection of vignettes contrasts with the more elaborate plot lines of his other books. It concerns a snail named Avon as he leaves his cozy home looking for adventures with his new friend, an ant named Edward. The events that follow, while adventuresome to the heros, are humorous to the readers: guarding a caterpillar in her cocoon, dueling another snail, teaching a cricket a new song and, biggest of all, discovering the end (the beginning?) of the branch they've set out on.
The language is clever and endearing and Tricia Tusa's illustrations are precious. The whole book has a Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet spirit and the illustrations even evoke Ernest H. Shepard's whimsical style. It's a quick, refreshing and delightful read.
Very highly recommended!