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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Turtle Pond, written by James Gladstone and pictures by Karen Reczuch. Groundwood, 2018. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"Summer ...
stretched out in sunlight,
turtles are basking,
warming their bodies
on all the dry rocks of
turtle pond.

their mouths are moving.
Are turtles speaking?
We try to hear them,
the sounds they're making
at turtle pond."

What is it about turtles? Is it that they carry their homes with them? Or that they appear to be shy and retiring? Or that they are a reasonably easy-care pet to have? Whatever it is, those interested in turtles and their habits will find much here to explore.

It is a book about one specific species ... the red-eared slider. It is recognizable as the one most often kept as a pet. In this journey through the seasons for a young boy and his family, readers learn a great deal about this particular turtle. They are frequent visitors to the turtle pond at the public gardens in their community. In those visits, they make careful observations concerning turtle behaviors.

"Piled high -
one, two, three, four, five!
They climb on each other.                 
Why do they do that?
A stack of turtles at turtle pond."

The text is accessible for young readers, and informative. Each season brings new observations to be noted and recorded in clear text. For those particularly interested, this quiet book is likely to lead to further study. An author's note provides additional facts about turtles in general and this one in particular. 

"Today there are close to 320 species of turtles
living in the world. Many of those species are
threatened with extinction. So it may seem odd
that Turtle Pond features a species - the Red-eared
Slider - that is far from endangered. In fact, the
Red-eared Slider is so successful that it is considered
an invasive species in many places. To be fair to the
Red-ears, they have become invasive in large part due
to the vast numbers we have bred as pets."

The author's fascination is clear, and the realistic graphite pencil and watercolor illustrations are rich in color and detail. The soft colors, with bright hits of red for the turtle's 'ears', speak to the quiet calm of the pond. Changing perspectives allow further understanding for these gentle, curious and ancient creatures.

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