Book Review: Shayla Sweet and Her Magical Pen
by Latina McIntyre, Illustrated by Eric Quzack
Publication Date: Dec 08, 2020
List Price: $14.95
Format: Hardcover, 38 pages
Target Age Group: Picture Book
Imprint: Mascot Books
Publisher: Mascot Books
Parent Company: Mascot Books
Book Reviewed by Denolyn Carroll
“…And a little child shall lead them…” (Isaiah 11:6 NKJV).
While spending summer break at her grandmother Nani’s home, little Shayla goes nowhere without her “magic pen and pad.” One morning while having a “yummy” breakfast, Shayla muses and puts her breakfast aside to write down the idea that comes to her. Nani has to urge her to put down the pen and eat her breakfast. And this is only the beginning. Over the course of the day, Shayla is distracted from everything Nani asks her to do and instead ardently answers the call to write with her magic pen. Frustrated, Nani demands to know what she’s writing about, and Shayla obliges: “I’m writing a story about how much love is needed in the world.”
Then she reads her story aloud to Nani:
There is so much love that is needed in the world. People are hungry and need food to eat. People are thirsty and need clean water to drink. People are sad and need some happiness. People are homeless and need a place to call home. Some children are without parents and need a family. And some people are without God and need His grace and mercy to shine.
Nani is floored and lovingly encourages, “Shayla Sweet, you keep writing with that magical pen of yours, and you just might discover how to spread love that will shine on everyone! I love you.” And Shayla, for her part, wonders what she’ll “write about tomorrow.”
With Shayla Sweet and Her Magical Pen McIntyre introduces readers to a darling little girl, whose very innocence allows her to tap into the needs of mankind in a profound way. The name Shayla has several sources/associations including the following: In Hebrew, it means “question” as in a question you would ask a rabbi—and Shayla seems to have some answers. In its Irish Gaelic iteration it means “from the fairy palace,” which accounts for the “magical” pen that can both reveal and heal, and the overall sense of magic that permeates the book. Further, the name Shayla is associated with expression, creativity, imagination, positivity, and optimism. It is also said to be a modern variation on the name Sheila, an Irish root name meaning “heavenly” —and, indeed, Shayla can be seen as a spiritual messenger, a beacon of hope in a wanting world.
Eric Quzack’s illustrations are beautiful, strong complements to the story. The images are bold, yet warm and lifelike in their rendering. On the covers and throughout the book, the dominance and hints of the colors purple, lilac and mauve signify power, wisdom, spirituality, devotion, peace, mystery, and, yes, magic.
Shayla Sweet and Her Magical Pen (2020) seems to emanate straight from the heart of L.S. McIntyre’s core beliefs and sense of purpose. Author of 12 Weeks of Mind Renewal: Through Devotion, Prayer, and Action! (2018) and 12 Weeks of Mind Renewal: Leader’s Guide (2019), McIntyre affirms that she loves “writing faith-based books that encourage people of all ages to get in their word and live as God has called them to do!” The married mother of three is also “the founder/director of the Super Smart Girl’s Club, a literacy-based nonprofit organization designed to mentor and motivate young girls ages 2-18.” And she is proud of “her books of positivity and inspiration.”
And so she should be. In the character of Shayla Sweet, readers young and old have a personality and a presence they will no doubt embrace. They will surely anticipate what she and her magical pen will reveal in all the tomorrows to come.