Chrissie’s Shell is about a little turtle who is feeling empty. She cannot see anything inside her shell and assumes it is empty. In the forest, Chrissie sees all sorts of “real” animals and wants to be like them. She sees a mouse and wants to run fast like the mouse. A squirrel goes up a tree and Chrissie wishes she could climb trees. Even the slow hedgehog gets Chrissie wishing to be as strong as the hedgehog’s quills.
Chrissie spends her days dreaming about all the animals she wants to be and wakes up disappointed to find she is still herself. She forgets all the good things she does, like the time she took an injured young lizard home. Even though it was a long, all day ride, the lizard’s parents were ecstatic to have their child brought home safely. Chrissie also uses her shell as shelter for a butterfly caught in the rain. She doesn’t give herself credit, nor does she see that her “empty” shell has great value.
Finally, Chrissie asks God to make her a real someone. He questions her notion that she isn’t already a real someone, but Chrissie wants to be strong like a bear or fast like a bunny. God thinks a shell would be too small for the bear and the bunny’s cottontail would look funny sticking out from the shell.
God asks Chrissie to go to the pond and look in the water. There Chrissie sees her reflection for the first time. She finally understands that she is a real someone and her shell is not empty – it contains her. Chrissie is happy and no longer wants to be someone she is not.
This is a cute story that any child can identify with. Who didn’t want to be the kid down the block that got all the hits at the game or always got the A at school? Or, maybe the kid with the pool in the backyard and the “cool parents?” Through Chrissie the turtle, kids can see that we were meant to be who we are, not who we want to be.
It is difficult to review this without mentioning God since He is a part of the story. Chrissie talks to God when she realizes she will never be able to change into someone “real” by imagining it to be. The Christian tone of this story may be the very reason some parents will not buy this book for their kids. That would be a shame because it is a great little story about self worth. That is something we all need regardless of our religious beliefs.
The illustrations could tell the story without any narration. They are spot on compatible with the text, very colorful and Chrissie is the most adorable turtle you will ever see.
Note: received from netgalley, courtesy of the publisher