Review: Sophie’s Shell

For tonight’s bedtime story, T picked out a lovely, colourful book that we received in the post recently – Sophie’s Shell by Jo Rooks.

Sophie is a cute, clever snail with lots of BIG questions that she is eager to learn the answers to. As you might imagine then, she is very excited to start school. However, on reaching the school gates, Sophie discovers a wobbly feeling in her tummy and when her new teacher comes over to say hello Sophie finds herself too shy to say hello and pops into her shell!

This shyness continues during lessons and even at lunchtime and it looks as though Sophie might spend more time in her shell than out finding the answers to her BIG questions. But then, whilst hiding away, Sophie hears a voice declaring that he also sometimes feels shy and she makes herself a new friend – Stanley the snail. He is confident and funny, but when the time comes to speak in front of the whole class, his own shyness rears its head! Can Sophie find the confidence to help her friend and truly come out of her shell?!

We first encountered Jo’s work when we read A Box of Butterflies, a special story and Book of the Week winner ( In that book, a range of feelings are explored whereas here we focus on one feeling that all children will recognise well – shyness. The clever use of a snail illustrates this feeling brilliantly –

with the story doing a great job of exploring this emotion in a way that children will be able to relate to well. The story is cleverly laid out so young readers can predict when the ‘pops’ are coming and shows children how they might overcome what can often seem like an overwhelming emotion. The illustrations are excellent – lots of bright pastel colours, plenty of variety in character and emotion, and some gentle humour. Who knew snails could be so cute?!

This is a lovely story to explore with children 4 and up, and absolutely ideal if you have a child starting nursery or reception in the next month or so! Jo has a knack of exploring emotion in a child-friendly, accessible way and this book could really prove helpful to many! T really enjoyed it and was eager to discuss friends. He told me, “I liked the pretty pink snail. She is a nice friend and friends make you happy because you love them.” He had clearly internalised lots of the story as you can see in his solo read tonight…

We shall be looking out for more of the Once Upon a Garden series. If you want to check it out, you can get a copy of tonight’s story via the following link…

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