“All of us have gifts. We are born with them. You just haven’t discovered yours yet.”–Return of the Schmooney, Bob Shumaker
Back in 2005, I was captivated by the story of the Schmooney, an adorable creature made up of seven woodland animals. Now, author Bob Shumaker brings the Schmooney back for a whole new take on his adventure. In Return of the Schmooney, the reader is reminded not only that we all have special gifts, but that our differences make our communities stronger. This sweet picture book provides a powerful message complete with lovable characters and an imaginative setting that’s sure to delight.
The Story of the Schmooney:
Deep in the Enchanted Forest, the Schmooney hides in his burrow. He longs for a friend but feels he has nothing to offer. His fur isn’t beautiful like the coats of other animals; he isn’t fast or strong. But one day, a little mouse asks to be his friend. She tells him that he has special gifts, too. He just has to find them.
When danger arrives in the Enchanted Forest, the Schmooney finally has a chance to prove himself. As he strives to save the other animals, he’ll discover his own unique gift and realize he had value all along.
Maintaining the Legacy:
True to the powerful message of the original Legend of the Schmooney, Return of the Schmooney celebrates the value of individuals and reminds readers that everyone has something to offer. Although the story’s focus has changed slightly, the Schmooney remains a relatable character. All of us at some point or other struggle with comparison. We all at times wonder if our gifts matter as much as those of other people. The Schmooney reminds us to find beauty in our differences — a message just as necessary for adults as it is for children.
Another constant of Bob Shumaker’s work is the simple pleasure of the artwork. Though Return of the Schmooney features a new illustrator (the talented Sarah Blackaby), the magic of the forest setting remains as stunning as ever. The story pairs perfectly with whimsical illustrations featuring bears in bow ties and mice wearing watches. Just flipping through the pictures will make young readers happy.
Creating a Fresh Take:
Return of the Schmooney adds extra layers to the Schmooney’s tale by focusing on friendship and adding a bit of humor. Now readers can follow the Schmooney as he connects with his community and builds new relationships. After he learns about his special gift, he shares his ability with his friends, and they in return take care of him. Through the friendships that form, readers see how communities can share their differences to protect and care for each other.
The addition of a new character, a spunky mouse who helps the Schmooney realize his potential, also provides the chance for some delightful banter. The humor keeps the story fun and engaging during dialogue that clearly conveys the story’s main message.
While the 2005 version of the Schmooney carried the mythical feel of folklore, Shumaker’s 2020 take on the tale is light and colorful. Readers will find in this lovely picture book a powerful story for all ages. I highly recommend adding it to your bookshelf.
Coming Up: An Interview With Bob Shumaker!
Next week, we’ll have the pleasure of discussing Return of the Schmooney with the author himself. Join us to learn more about Bob Shumaker and what inspired this delightful story.