Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell by Sue Hendra is the first children’s book I learned off by heart. Not because I think it’s a particularly fine piece of literature, but because it was the first – and if I’m honest, the only – book Daughter would have me read ‘on repeat’. That alone earns it a place in our household’s hall of fame.
I wrote the following on the 1st May 2012 – Daughter was one.
“Norman the slug idolises the snails and their wonderful shells. He longs to join in with their games, but can’t because his squishy body is unstackable. Norman takes it on himself to fashion his own shell from an old donut. Having done so, he inadvertently saves the lives of his new friends.
Daughter adored this book. After having read it to her three times, she snatched it off me and made Husband read it to her too. After her nap, it was the first thing she went for, stroking Norman on all the pages, finally kissing the cover.To begin with, keeping her attention on anything other than the shiny front page was difficult but after a single read through she was hooked.
The ‘moral’ of this story is somewhat ambiguous. I took it to be an overwhelmingly positive one – Norman wanted a shell and used his imagination to create one – the old Back to the Future mantra of, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”. There are those, however, who will inevitably say that it’s a book about needing to conform in order to have friends. Until Norman gets a shell, no one is interested in being his friend but once he matches the rest of his peers, he is accepted. I suppose how you take it depends on your world view.”
I stand by my original assessment. And Daughter continued with her love for this tale.
And when she finally grew away from it, Son took up the mantle of Number One Norman Fan. It’s been nearly eight years since this book entered our home and I don’t think a week has gone by without my reading it.
Friends have even gone so far as to make us Norman-themed toys and decor…
Happily, Sue Hendra has also written a large number of other books. Again, these are stories my children love and which they would heartily recommend. They’re all different – all bright and colourful and very fun.
Which Sue Hendra is your favourite?