Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail

Children - Picture Book
42 Pages
Reviewed on 08/07/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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.

Jamie Lee Wandel

Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail by Jane Park Smith is an inspiring story about woodland creatures becoming friends. We are introduced first to Frankie, a fox with a secret plan to go to the Forbidden Forest. He invites all of the creatures that can keep up with him. Shyla, the snail, hears the invitation but is turned away for being “too slow.” Shyla is unoptimistic at first but later finds herself trailing just behind the others. Again she overhears them, and this time they are disappointed with Frankie for not knowing how to return home. Shyla sees her woodland friends are troubled and boldly steps up to help in a beautifully unexpected way.

In this picture book, Jane Park Smith explores themes like forgiveness, friendship, and showing empathy. We also learn that sometimes the things we are most ashamed of turn out to be our “superpower.” The story does contain some Christian sentiments but I would say it is appropriate for Christians and non-Christians alike. The adorable illustrations and simple plot make it a nice bedtime story for little ones. At the end of the book, the author offers useful discussion questions to have with children. The book presents a social teaching moment opportunity but I can also imagine Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail sparking curiosity in kids to learn more about snails and their slime. I would love to pair this story with a fun slime-making activity! I would strongly recommend this book for young children, especially those interested in nature.

Bruce Arrington

Shyla The Trailblazing Super Snail by Jane Park Smith is a children’s illustrated story about bullying and forgiveness. At the end is a page that helps parents to lead a discussion about being cool, being an outcast, and forgiveness. The story’s characters consist of colorful forest friends (a fox, skunk, owl, bear, and mice) who one day meet up so the fox, Frankie, can lead them on an exciting adventure: exploring the Forbidden Forest. Shyla is only there by chance but feels the fox’s ridicule nonetheless. Even so, she determines to follow along at her own pace and join the group when she can. Of course, the animals get lost, and as they move around in circles, they eventually find Shyla, who guides them back home to safety. After Frankie eats his portion of crow, things look up for Shyla and her family.

Although not an original story, this tale does shine with a lot of humor and color. The artwork is spectacular, filled with lots of detail that will make kids want to read the story over and over again. And this is a good thing since kids may often need to be reminded from time to time how important it is to treat others kindly. Shyla The Trailblazing Super Snail by Jane Park Smith is a good reminder of how we should treat each other, no matter our size, looks, skills, abilities, or gender. I can see this book as an excellent resource for dealing with bullies, as well as a good bedtime story between parents and children. Highly recommended.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Frankie the fox, the cool kid in the group, has invited his buddies on a trip to the Forbidden Forest. Out to explore so many places, they do not want to include Shyla the snail in their adventure. They are afraid she will slow things down with her sluggish movements. However, Shyla decides to follow her friends anyway. After some time, the animals are hopelessly lost in the obscure parts of the forest. Who will come to their rescue? Can Shyla help them find a way back with her special trail? Will the cool kids even accept help from her? Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail, a picture book written by Jane Park Smith and illustrated by Jeanine-Jonee, answers these questions.

Using a world of talking animals, Jane Park Smith depicts a scene quite common in the schoolyard. More often than not, children follow someone who is considered “cool” and is popular. If a kid does not conform to the set norms, they are neglected and sometimes bullied. This book helps children realize that every person is unique and special in their own way. Thus, instead of shutting someone out, we should accept everyone as our friends. The realistic illustrations bring out the animals’ expressions splendidly. The discussion questions at the end help young readers reflect on the inner meanings of this tale. Smith incorporates intriguing facts about snails that will enrich youngsters' knowledge. I recommend Shyla the Trailblazing Super Snail as an educational yet engaging tale that is perfect for children aged six to ten years.