Webb review – Sid the snail has lost his trail by Chloe Helene Harding

Sid The Snail Has Lost His Trail is written by Chloe Helene Harding and illustrated by Marife Gonzales, a picture book written in rhyme that aims to teach children perseverance. Sid gets separated from his mummy in bad weather and has to find his way home alone but it is not an easy journey.

Available from Shookbop.

Harrison and I really enjoyed Sid’s story, it is simple to follow and is full of heart. Sid meets lots of friends on the way and listens to their advice not to give up. I think that children will really relate to Sid, even now I can remember that fear when I was lost as a child (only for a few moments luckily) and the fear of being alone is real. It also shows that Mummy and the whole family never gave up looking for Sid either which I think is a really important part of the story too. The main theme is perseverance and that is exactly what Sid will learn by the end of his journey.

Harrison loves Sid The Snail

The illustrations by Marife Gonzales are absolutely beautiful. A mix of digital and collage with lots of texture. They are bright and impactful and match the tone of the story from page to page. My favourites were the trees, leaves and flowers whereas Harry really loved the characters especially Len the louse. It has a very cheerful overall feel to the story despite some of the darker parts when Sid is scared and lonely.

A great bedtime story.

Sid The Snail Has Lost His Trail made a great bedtime story all snuggled up and ready to sleep. We were very glad that there was a happy ending, a really warm and fuzzy happy ending to Sid’s journey. We would highly recommend this story for your bedtime routine, it was heartwarming and wholesome.

The author, Chloe Helene harding is an advocate of Growth Mindset especially in children and the book includes a great explanation about how helping a child to develop a growth mindset will help them in the future to nurture themselves and the world around them. I believe that this is incredibly important and something that is too often overlooked. Seeing it in the back of the book can be really enlightening to parents and carers, it is in my opinion a great addition. It is a great lesson for adults too and we all need a reminder sometimes.

Stour Valley Publishing are the publishers behind the story and they sent it to us for review and we are very glad that they did, we have really enjoyed getting to know Sid and the world that the author and illustrator have created together. Hopefully it is the first of many.

Harrison awarded 5 out of 5 webs.

Harrison has awarded this book 5 out of 5 webs and has asked if he can read it again soon. I think he will probably enjoy it even more when he isn’t so sleepy too.

You can get your own copy now from Shookbop.

This review is all of our own opinions and is not a paid review.

Thank you so much for reading,

Samantha and Harrison Webb.

Sass Feels Lonely – Writing for small children is harder than it seems!

I am so happy to announce that pre-orders for my brand new book Sass Feels Lonely are live on Shookbop! The book will be published on June 21st and I cannot wait.

Sass Feels Lonely is the first book that I have ever written for smaller children, aimed at under 5s (although I do hope that it will have wider appeal). Sass has a very simple narrative with very bright bold colours and a main character that I think you will fall in love with.

Sass is a very fluffy Bigfoot/Sasquatch that lives alone in the woods. He has always been alone but he manages to keep himself busy. Sometimes even the most creative people get lonely and Sass is no exception. The story shows how he tries to make friends and overcomes his loneliness.

Keeping the word count down was a huge challenge.

It was a real challenge for me as a writer to keep the story simple. The first three or four drafts were considerably longer and more detailed but I knew that I wanted Sass to appeal to a much younger audience. To research, I read a lot of books for smaller children and realised that I needed to let the illustrations do their work of telling the story and trust that they can convey what is happening visually. After around seven drafts I managed to get the text shorter and now it simply amplifies the illustrations as opposed to describing them.

I really thought that writing a shorter story would be easier, it seems simple and the masters that create stories from minimal words really do make it seem that way but in my experience the fewer words you use the harder it seems to be to create something that is unique and full of heart, which is always one of my biggest aims when writing a children’s book. I fully underestimated the time it would take to complete and the amount of drafts that it would take. Even now, when it has gone off to print, a small part of me wishes I could keep editing the text to make it even more perfect but you have to realise when it is time to stop or the book would never be ready for publication.

If you decide to give it a go yourself then I really recommend reading lots and lots of books that are aimed at a similar audience so that you can get a good idea of the structure and word count. That is always a good idea for any book you are attempting though but especially if you are unfamiliar with the structure you are aiming for. Figure out exactly what it is that you need to add to your text and everything else can be whittled down to just the bare text that is needed to push your story forward.

Sass was developed with a lot of the images first (I knew the character well before I began writing), followed by the first few drafts of text. The remaining illustrations were created to fit with the first drafts and then the text was edited into the story that it is now, simple and with a minimal word count.

One day I would love to attempt wordless picture book but I don’t think I am quite confident enough for that yet.

Sass was created primarily on the iPad with procreate.

I am delighted that Sass has a wonderful publisher, Stour Valley Publishing. They have handled my previous title Glub and I am so happy with the outcome. I have every faith that Sass Feels Lonely is in great hands.

I have had some stickers created with Sass and some keyring too, it is so much fun to see him on real products and as soon as I have the book in my hand I will be posting all over my social media.

I don’t have any plans for the launch day yet but I know I will be doing some form of bundle giveaway to celebrate. If you have any suggestions for ways to celebrate please let me know!

Sass keyrings.

Thank you so much for reading about my adventure into writing for smaller children. I am really excited to see what you all think of the new book. I hope you will love Sass as much as I do and I hope that your little ones will too! Preorder your copy now!

Samantha Webb.

Glub, Now Under New Management!

I am so delighted to be writing this blog post. Glub, my curious purple creation has had a rough start of it and has been on a real adventure but I feel like he has finally found his true home.

Glub

I wrote the story of Glub around 12 years ago, after a trip to Paignton where we always go in to the arcades and have some wholesome family fun. My husband was adamant that he wanted to win a particularly unflattering teddy of Micheal Jackson because in his words “it is so bad, it is brilliant?’. Our then one year old daughter Lilly was horrified and was grabbing for the cute teddies and really no one would blame her. Sadly that day we walked away without any prizes but an idea was beginning to form in my mind.

Concept art by Jamie Webb.

On reading the first draft my husband drew many pictures of Glub, I absolutely loved his concept art and you can find one of those images today as the end papers in the finished book. The book then sat dormant for a while, I was getting the Cornlings all finished and ready to publish and I wasn’t sure if Glub would be watercolour or felt. He really had to be fluffy didn’t he!

Many, many months went into felting the illustrations, wet felt and needle felt followed by embroidery and some bead work. Jamie photographed it beautifully so that every image still looked fluffy. But I still didn’t do anything for a while.

Glub waits for a new home.

So Glub waited and waited, he was patient. I was really nervous to show him to people because by this point I was really quite attached and if he was rejected I would be heartbroken. However, with a little encouragement in 2018 I entered him into a contest to win publication and cried with happiness when he won. Glub was going to be published! Happy ending, right?

Definitely not, I told you it has been a journey! When the publishers (who I won’t name and are no longer in business) were preparing Glub everything felt amazing. Publication day came and I hadn’t received copies, however the presages had gone out and my goddaughters had received theirs. We raced over to see it and honestly I cried and I cried, no longer happy tears. My book that I had poured years of love into had been released in a format that was cheap, nasty and really overpriced. I called the publisher who had a truck load of excuses but refused to make changes. I was truly upset to have my name on work that was so poorly created. I went through the next few months of stress trying to claw back ownership of my own work and I got it! Glub was all mine again, sadly Amazon refuses to take my name off of the awful listing so please if you want Glub, Amazon is not the place to buy him.

I left him for another year and decided that he was to good to just be left. I decided to self publish Glub to a high standard like I had previously with my Cornlings books. I put him on Amazon but sadly he does not show in the search listings because Amazon algorithms prefer price to quality. (Again do not buy Glub on Amazon). I thought this would be the end of Glub’s story, forced into obscurity because I had made some bad decisions with an unscrupulous publisher.

Despite this Glub has always been a favourite on school visits, children really do love him and at the end of the day that is all it is really about.

Glub gets a makeover on a school visit!

Don’t worry, I am slowly getting to Glub’s happy ending.

Whilst working with Stour Valley Publishing on The Soggy Little Bee by Simon Henderson, they purchased a copy of Glub from me, my self-published version. I was delighted with the sale and did the obligatory happy dance as all authors do when you purchase their books. Then I received a message to say that they would like to take on Glub as one of their titles. I immediately explained all that happened above and assumed it would be a deal breaker.

But on March 1st 2021 Glub was published, bigger and better and in more detail than ever before. The print quality is far superior and Glub looks like he always should of done. I can’t thank Carl and the Stour Valley Publishing team enough. The entire experience could not of been more different to my first publishing encounter.

Glub is a story about not giving up on finding a home and a family and I can honestly say that I am glad that I didn’t give up on Glub!

We celebrated the signing of the contracts!

You can purchase him now and make me do a happy dance, from independent and amazing bookshop, Shookbop!

The Whole Family celebrated on release day!