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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail is a children’s animal picture book written by Jane Park Smith and illustrated by Jeanine-Jonee. All of the other young animals were about to set off on a grand adventure -- they were going to travel deep into and explore the Forbidden Forest, a place their parents had warned them never to enter. Frankie the Fox was, as usual, the ringleader, and he warned off any who would be frightened or would slow them down. Then he mentioned Shyla, the little snail who no one had noticed. She was there right alongside them but safely tucked out of sight. Frankie’s deliberate exclusion of her and his mean comments about her lack of speed hurt the little snail and made her feel sad. She watched as they set off on their exciting quest, and then slowly made her way after them. Shyla got distracted by the red and white mushrooms she passed, however, and she saw her favorite snack, some mossy greens, to nibble on from her lofty perch atop a mushroom. After eating, she decided to rest for a while. Then she heard the other young animals speaking in worried tones -- they were lost and had no idea how to leave the cave system they had entered. And it was getting late. As it got darker and darker, they began to feel frightened. Then they saw Shyla.
In Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail, Jane Park Smith explores the concept of forgiveness as Shyla comes to the rescue of the young animals who had gotten themselves lost in the forest. We also see how generous and kind the young snail is in her immediate reaction to the needs of others. Instead of rejecting them for their earlier dismissal of her, her first thought is to help them. Smith’s fable works on so many levels, and Jeanine-Jonee’s marvelous illustrations make the story come to life so brilliantly. I loved exploring each panel, where delightful creatures, interesting foliage, and intriguing shades and colors await the beholder. Smith includes discussion questions for Family Time at the back of her book, and a page titled Cool Snail Facts gives information about the Grove snail, which is the type of snail Shyla is based upon. Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail is highly recommended.