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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who Wants A Tortoise, written by Dave Keane and illustrated by K.G. Campbell. Alfred A Knopf, Random House. 2016.$23.99 ages 4 and up

"I don't have a list of cute tortoise names, so I don't name him anything. "Hey, you, tortoise." He doesn't seem to mind, but it's impossible to tell what a tortoise is thinking. I decide to see what my new lump of a pet can do."

What is a girl to do when she has spent her entire life wishing for a puppy? She certainly can voice a plethora of complaints when what she gets is a tortoise. She does know her dad is allergic to dogs; what if she is allergic to cold-blooded reptiles? Anyone think about that? She should have known her birthday was going to be a big  disappointment.

Her demeanor is evident on the front cover and remains so as she contemplates life with a tortoise. She has a whole list of things it cannot do, and knows very little about what it can. On the other hand, she knows a lot about dogs, has a long list of names that might suit, and has dreamt often of the many adventures they might share. Phooey! Following the departure of her party guests, her grumpy behavior results in a time out.

In an attempt to accept her new reality, she discovers what she can do with her new pet - make him over. Paint its toenails, decorate its back, make it over into something else entirely. Mom is none too pleased at her choice, and maybe the tortoise feels the same. Grammy and Grandpa bring a book filled with information about the newest family member. As she begins to discover more can than can't, the attachment grows. When the tortoise loses itself, a search is on! She is worried about him, and counts on others to help her. It takes time; the concern grows. Will he be found in time to save him, or never?

Softly textured watercolor and colored pencil artwork provides all the context that young readers will need for this lively new book about pet ownership. Perspectives change, allowing a clear look at family dynamics, friendship and a growing attachment of the young owner for her previously unwanted companion. Front and back endpapers are evidence of a shift in attitude, and are most informative.

Can you guess what familiar dog's name you might give a tortoise whose inquisitive nature and need for fresh garden food lead to a walkabout? Give it a go ... let's hear what you think.

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