Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Turtle Spring

Turtle Spring

Deborah Turney Zagwyn
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Tricycle Press, 1998   ISBN: 15824605203

Clee is not at all enthusiastic about the latest arrival in her family. Her new baby brother is noisy, hogs everyone's attention, and she feels rather left out. Then her wild and interesting Uncle "Fishtank" arrives. He has brought Clee a surprise, something that "ain't a gift for a baby." Now Clee has something that is all her own. Uncle Fishtank's gift turns out to be a southeastern turtle. The turtle is "a rebel with no cause, jumped tank one time to many." Clee's garden is the best place for such an independently minded creature and soon the little animal is happily sun-bathing in her sandbox.

In late September Clee's father leaves the family to do a job some distance away. He will be gone for months and it is hard for the family to be without him. Fall arrives and Clee's mother reminds her daughter that the turtle cannot survive in the cold and should be brought inside before winter sets in, but Clee forgets to do anything about it. When she remembers she goes outside and is horrified to find her turtle pulled into its shell and "stone still, stone cold." Miserable, Clee buries the turtle deep in the compost heap.

Winter arrives and it is bitter and full of snow. Clee misses her father but she also starts to do things with her little brother. There are things she can share with him now that he is no longer a crying infant.

And so the seasons "slip one into the other." The author of this charming book relates several stories against the backdrop of the changing seasons. The one is about the turtle; the other is about Clee's developing relationship with her little brother. Best of all is the joy that Clee shares with her brother when she discovers one of the surprises that spring brings with her. Simply told, warming, and colorfully illustrated, the author's own love for the rhythms of the seasons and the beauty of nature comes through bright and clear and is a gift to her readers.

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