Also by this author: Henry Says Good-bye: When You Are Sad, Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much
Series: Good News For Little Hearts #5
Published by New Growth Press on September 2019
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
Buy on Amazon
Tori the turtle feels all alone. She has just moved to a new pond and a new school with her family and it seems like everyone has a friend except her. Her teacher notices she feels alone and helps her remember Jesus is always her friend and then along the way she makes some new friends. The last page contains information for Christian parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are lonely. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life. Also included is a tear-out page of Back Pocket Bible Verses that will give children a practical way to remember God's words when they feel all alone.
Learning emotional control can be one of the most difficult things about early childhood (or late childhood…or adolescence…or adulthood). For little ones engaging with these emotions and these heart issues for the very first time, it can be a confusing and troubling experience.
Story, especially for our little ones, becomes a way to experience and understand certain experiences without needing to be in the middle of them. We learn how to respond to anger or anxiety or failure by seeing it modeled in other people—in our life stories—or in fictional characters. Children’s actions and responses are often modeled by the media they consume.
As such, it becomes very important to teach and model appropriate emotional reactions to our children. To help with this, the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation has partnered with New Growth Press to develop and publish a series of children’s books meant to introduce such topics. The end result is Good News for Little Hearts, written by Jocelyn Flenders and illustrated by Joe Hox.
Tori Comes Out of Her Shell
This installment of the Good News for Little Hearts series deals with loneliness. The turtle family has recently moved from their log home in Woodland Pond to a new place in Mulberry Meadow. Everybody seems to like this except for Tori, who is scared to meet new friends.
Her first day of school is difficult. Miss Minnick has her introduce herself to the entire class. At recess, she’s afraid to play because the other kids might make fun of her. But Miss Minnick has noticed that Tori seems too shy to participate. She tells Tori about an embarrassing time in her childhood and how she was reminded that God loves us and is our friend even when we seem not to have any other friends. That Sunday, at their new church, the pastor talked about how God is always with them.
That next week, Tori makes a friend—one who wanted a shell like hers. She and Gertie become instant friends and Tori even invites Gertie to church! The story ends with Miss Minnick looking on at the two new friends from the church choir.
Like the other Good News for Little Hearts books, the storytelling is okay, but not great. Tori does indeed come out of her shell, but only to one person and only when that person is also seemingly new and reclusive. There are illustration cameos of other characters in the series, but none of them reach out to Tori. We never learn if she makes friends or feels comfortable with the rest of her class. This would have been a stronger story if the class reached out to her even as she was emboldened to reach out to others.
I would also liked to have seen the book address the loss: the old home, old friends, old school, old church. Those are an important part of Tori’s life and should remain so. I think the book missed an important opportunity here.
Overall, like most of this series, Tori Comes Out of Her Shell is…average. Just average. There’s nothing that stands out as exceptional in its teaching and its execution is a bit lacking.