Hector’s Shell by Thomas Radcliffe

[I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.]

Hector's Shell

Hector’s Shell is an endearing and charmingly illustrated story about grit, determination, and resourcefulness.

One day Hector comes back to his spot on the beach after a successful day of snorkeling only to find that his shell is missing.

Uh oh. That’s not good.  But his reaction is admirable.

He first thinks ahead to what his parents would say.  “Where did you have it last? Have you looked under your bed?  Why can’t you take better care of your things?”  You know, entirely reasonable and legitimate questions we ask our children all the time.

So he thinks about the first question and starts asking around — not just one — but three different creatures.  After a decent amount of effort in searching he moves on the next, seemingly more likely possibility:  maybe it is just gone.  Here he could cry or run to his parents, but instead he decides he’s going to make a new shell and gets to work gathering anything that he could possibly use.  He tries a beach bucket and fails.  He tries turning newspaper into an origami shell and fails.  He bundles up balloons and fails.  But he doesn’t get all mopey and woe-is-me.  He gets mad.  And mad is much, much more useful than despondent.  He has a few more failed, but funny, attempts in acquiring or creating a shell — and then — just as he was about to give up — he remembers where he put it and all is well!  He’s sure there’s some lesson to learn from all of this, but then that idea leaves him as quickly as it comes and he’s onto more important things.

Hector’s Shell has been a huge hit in our home with both my boys asking me to read and reread it.  We have never read this book just once — each time we sit down to read Hector’s Shell we read it three, four, and five times in a row.  It’s an easy book to sit down and enjoy over and over again.

Both my five-year-old son and two-year-old son have been found looking through it on their own and I couldn’t be happier — for here, disguised as a colorful, giggly, and diverting picture book is a story about set back, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and persistence and they’re happily absorbing it all.

This book is a gem!

Read it because:

  • Hector, our hero, is so very approachable and it’s very easy for us to identify with him.
  • Hector’s over-sized black-framed glasses and shell-less body create a vulnerability and disarming quality in him where you can only help but see yourself and admire how he systematically approaches his problems.
  • Hector’s approach and attitude toward his problem are only admirable and productive.
  • Hector fails and fails and fails and fails and then finally succeeds — and that simply doesn’t phase him.
  • It’s a perfect depiction of what success actually feels like — a string of failures followed by an eventual breakthrough.
  • In the midst of all those giggles, it clearly tells you that the right path often looks twisted, unplanned, full of failure and that success is a lot of grit with a dash of luck.
  • The story and illustrations are superb, funny, inspiring, and everything you need them to be to have a great time reading with your kids and talking with them about how to turn failure into success.
  • The teaching moments in this book are phenomenal, but you won’t have to lecture at all.
  • The illustrations are spot on in setting up Hector’s character, his situation, and the overall tone of the story.
  • And it’s very, very funny.  You and yours will laugh throughout the whole book.

Recommended Ages 4 to 7. (My 5 and 2-year-old boys love it) Little Bee Books. June 2015. 40 pages. ISBN:978-1499800951. Fiction.

Where to Get it:

Author and Illustrator Websites:

  • Author and Illustrator:  Thomas Radcliffe — click to see more images from Hector’s Shell and more of his wonderful artwork!

More Reviews of this Book:

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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