Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Old Turtle

Old Turtle

Douglas Wood
Illustrator:  Cheng-Khee Chee 
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Scholastic, 2007   ISBN: 978-0439309080

Long ago there was a time when all living things and the elements of nature lived in harmony. Then one day an argument began. The creatures, the mountain, the star, the breeze, the sky, the willow tree, the island, and the stone could not agree what God is. Is he “a twinkling”, or a “sound and a smell.” Is he a “runner” or a “great tree.”

Louder and louder the argument grew until, at last, a new voice spoke out. It was Old Turtle, Old Turtle who hardly ever spoke. And yet now she had something to say. Old Turtle told them all that God is all the things they mentioned and more. He is everything to every creature and form of nature and most importantly he is “gentle and powerful” and “all that we dream of, and all that we seek.” Old Turtle then went on to tell his audience that “a new family of beings” would soon be arriving in the world. They would be “reminders of all that God is.”

Old Turtle was right but alas the people who came soon forgot “that they were a message of love”. They were violent and destructive. They killed one another and the living things of the earth until the earth was a sad and desolate place.

Then at last a voice was heard, a voice which told the people about God and who is. In time the people learned to hear the voice and to see themselves and the world around them with new eyes. They learned to heed the voice of Old Turtle.

In this extraordinary picture book readers will find a powerful message which always needs to be heard and remembered. They will be reminded that all living things are connected to each other and that all livings things are connected to the earth. They will be reminded that arguments lead to times of disharmony and at such times we lose our ability to think properly and to be compassionate.

A beautifully lyrical text and remarkable watercolor paintings make this a book which will most certainly stand the test of time.

This book was selected to receive the 1993 ABBY Book of the Year Award.