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Friday, May 19, 2017

Take Your Time: A Story of Harriet, the Galapagos Turtle, written by Eva Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli, with illustrations by Laurel Molk. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $23.99 ages 6 and up

"Harriet calmly yawned and fell asleep. But in the morning, she was curious. What was she missing? Harriet decided to go out into the big world. She wanted to see the penguin parade on a neighboring island. It took place in the summer. To get there on time, Harriet left in winter, the rainy season. She was in no hurry."

Harriet lives on one of the islands of the Galapagos Archipelago. She moves slowly, to the beat of her own drummer and the rhythm of her heart. Creatures who share her habitat constantly chastise her life's pace, saying she needs to step it up to see what she has been missing. Luckily, Harriet pays little mind to their constant nattering.

When her curiosity about the world gets the better of her, she sets out on a journey that begins with a desire to see the penguin parade on a neighboring island. She doesn't know it will take all winter to get there. The sights along the way are worthy of attention and admiration. Harriet is happy!

After the parade is done, Harriet moves on to more exploration and many lovely discoveries. She spends days with new friends, helping where she can and observing all that is there for her to see. Her travels last for many months. Then, she is ready for home. Just as she is about to set foot on her home island again, a pod of high-spirited dolphins whisk her away in an attempt to show her how much fun speed can be! She is impressed, for a time. Ultimately, she decides that life in the fast lane is not for her - the strong wind causes her to close her eyes, the water swooshing past leaves a salty taste and nothing else. Worth a try, but speed is not for Harriet. Harriet's many memories offer lovely scenes and learning from her prolonged trek. But, nothing beats home. Once more, she is content.

Laurel Molk's artwork depicts the setting beautifully. She uses block prints and watercolor, then digitally enhances the scenes to bring the islands and waters of the archipelago to life for her audience. I love the heavy dark lines that add dimension and vibrancy to the beauty found there.

An author's note following the tale's text tells readers that Harriet is named for a very famous giant Galapagos tortoise who lived to be approximately 175 years old, and died in 2006 at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo, the 'world's oldest animal in captivity'. We are reminded that the giant Galapagos tortoise has been hunted to near extinction.

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