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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
The Shnoos and Panoos Are Lost and Confused by Catherine Copplestone introduces young readers to the Shnoos and the Panoos, adorable and whimsical little creatures that have a wonderful life, doing exactly what they know they want to do in a garden where marshmallows grow. They have lots of fun playing tunes, dancing, making “amazing spectacular pants,” and enjoying themselves and life. They eat yummy snacks, love each other, and always say nice things to each other. But one day, everything changed. They forgot their joy; they forgot what to do; they forgot their purpose and meaning in life. Panic ensued and life was chaotic, confusing, and horrible, and it wasn’t fun anymore. The Shnoos and the Panoos argued amongst themselves. Then one little Shnoo came up with a miraculous solution... What could it be?
What a delightful story for both young and adult readers to share. The life lesson of choosing how to react, of choosing our emotions, of choosing love, peace and harmony over chaos and confusion, within this tale of the Shnoos and the Panoos is so simple, so perfect, that it really hit home for me as an adult reader. It’s so easy to be knocked off course by the winds of confusion, to lose our belief in ourselves and what is important, and that’s when we need to hold fast to what we know is true. I loved the delicate, charming illustrations, and how each little creature is made unique and special, from the one who makes “amazing, spectacular pants,” to the one who has a yen to travel to France (“Je suis un Panoo!”). The rhyming is impeccable and lyrical, and will draw the young reader into the story and the lesson. Some of the comments between the little creatures are hilarious and young readers will enjoy reading those aloud.
The lesson itself is quite advanced for young readers, but I think we underestimate children’s capacity for deeper thinking, realising what life is about, making choices, understanding concepts, and choosing their own path. These whimsical fantasy creatures are warm, friendly, and very appealing; they perfectly convey the author’s concept. The story also lends itself to further discussion between young readers and a parent or teacher about making choices and understanding feelings. The Shnoos and the Panoos learned a lesson that day ... and so can readers of all ages.