CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 28. . . .March 23, 2018
James Gladstone. Pictures by Karen Reczuch.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, May, 2018.
32 pp., hardcover & PDF, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-910-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-911-9 (PDF).
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Gillian Richardson.
young turtles swimming.
They play together
and chase each other
from top to bottom of turtle pond.
see how they glisten
when wet with water.
squiggly spots on yellow green in turtle pond.
Most of us are familiar with turtles since these reptiles inhabit so many environments. While endangered or unusual turtles are the subject of many books, this one zooms in on one successful species commonly kept as a pet, the Red eared Slider, and arouses a sense of wonder about these placid and captivating creatures. Throughout a year of visits to a public garden with a turtle pond, the author offers observations from the viewpoint of a child. During these sensory experiences, the child sees where the turtles rest, swim and feed, and he marvels at their colors. He wonders what they hear or how they communicate with one another. He muses about what they feel when wet, when dry, when basking in the sun or stacked up on top of each other. Questions are posed, but not answered directly: when do they breathe? Do they speak? Can they see or hear us? The young reader is left to ponder all of this while gaining insight from the text details and appealing illustrations that portray the turtles doing what turtles do.
The language is both simple and evocative, presented in poetical style. “Turtle pond” is repeated at the end of each short stanza. Action words give clear, instructive images: chase, glisten, dives, slipping and sliding, clinging, poking, stretched out, quietly dozing. The “Author’s Note” adds a few facts about turtles to explain his personal fascination.
The graphite pencil and watercolor illustrations are infused with the soft blues and greens of a pond setting. The peaceful ambiance encourages a thoughtful response amid an enveloping sense of place. The turtles come to life with rich detail. We see the pond and its inhabitants from several perspectives that engender a sense of respect for these intriguing animals. The people stay mostly in the background as interested and curious visitors.
Turtle Pond is a delightful, quiet book that is perfect for sharing with youngsters always curious about the animal world.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.
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