The fish out of water concept is relatively standard in children’s book and Norman, The Slug With the Silly Shell wears that badge firmly on its back. From the sparkly bits on the doughnut that’s tied to Norman’s back whilst he’s looking back and grinning kids immediately know this is silly fun. To that end, it’s a testament to author Sue Hendra that she could make an entertaining children’s book about such a mysterious and disgusting creature.
Norman is a slug. I haven’t seen a slug since I was a child. The only thing I remember about slugs is that they’re soft, leave a trail of ooze and birds apparently like to eat them. All of these things are addressed in the book.
But, Norman wants to hang out with the snails and all the snails have cool shells on their backs. He tries to play with them, but no dice and he’s left to search the city for a shell of his own. There are a couple round options that he tries as a makeshift shell, but nothing works until he finds a doughnut with sprinkles in the garbage.
It’s obvious that Norman lives nowhere near us because doughnuts, especially those with sprinkles, never leave the house.
Now that he’s one of the cool kids, thanks to his silly shell, Norman can cruise out with the gang. It’s a short visit because a bird sees the snails and Norman’s shell makes for easy pickings. High above the city Norman is due for certain doom until he realizes the thing that he’s really good at, oozing slime.
As he oozes slime the bird’s talons lose their grip and Norman gets to explore something else that’s new, falling back to the ground. Thankfully Norman makes a safe landing, but now he’s got the flight bug. If only he had a way to fly….
This concept works and it works in Norman The Slug With The Silly Shell. The pages have bright art that cover every square inch of paper in the book. It’s also utterly happy and makes for a great good night book. This can be long enough to read once or if you read quickly, read it twice to your small ones. Fans of Hendra’s earlier book, Keith, The Cat With The Magic Wand will immediately like Norman.
Ages 3-8 are good for this book. The older ages will be able to read most of the words, in addition to learning a couple new ones, like ‘slother’ and ‘reflection’. Younger kids will love being along for the ride, laughing at the happy images and imagining where they are amongst this group of snails.