May 23 – World Turtle Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me

About the Holiday

American Tortoise Rescue founded World Turtle Day in 2000 to raise awareness and respect for turtles and tortoises and to promote conservation to help them survive. Celebrations take many forms, from fun activities where participants dress as turtles to educational programs that teach about this fascinating creature and how people can help turtles in danger.

Turtle and Me

Written by Robie H. Harris | Illustrated by Tor Freeman

 

The little boy narrator of this story tells readers he met Turtle on the day he was born. Turtle was “way bigger” than he was. Now, the little boy is bigger than Turtle, but they are still best friends. When the boy was a baby he smiled and laughed every time he played with Turtle. As he grew he needed Turtle around to comfort him.

At naptime Turtle made him feel less sad and lonely and allowed him to sleep. Even now, when the boy is older, he still likes to play with Turtle even though his colors have faded, he’s ripped and raggedy, and some bad things have happened to him.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-sleeping

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

When bad things happened to Turtle the little boy felt terrible; sometimes he even cried and knew Turtle was sad too. But the boy always made sure that Turtle “gets sewn up, washed up, fixed up—and is okay again.” Once Turtle was left at the park. The little boy and his mom raced back and found Turtle covered in mud, sticky with gum, and with two new rips.  Even though Turtle felt gross the boy held him tight all the way home. At home Turtle received a very thorough wash and dry and an extra big hug. The little boy promised Turtle he would never let anything happen to him again.

But then last Friday “the worst thing of all happened.” The boy and his friend were sailing around the world in a cardboard box. Turtle was the Captain. But the boy’s friend wanted to be Captain and steer the ship. She grabbed Turtle away, and the boy grabbed Turtle back. In the ensuing tug-of-war, Turtle suffered “the biggest, baddest, most gigantic, horrible rip ever!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-playground

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The boy shouted at his friend: “You ripped my Turtle!” Before leaving, the boy’s friend yelled back: “Having Turtle’s a BABY thing!” The little boy hugged Turtle tight and then looked at him. Turtle had lost almost all his stuffing. The boy quickly pushed the fluff back in and taped Turtle’s tummy back up.

But the boy had a change of heart. Suddenly Turtle looked ugly, and the little boy left him on the floor alone. At bedtime, when Daddy brought Turtle to his son, he said he didn’t want Turtle anymore, but sleep without Turtle was elusive. Finally, the boy shouted, “I can’t sleep!” and his dad asked, “Do you want Turtle?” “‘NO’”, the boy said. “‘Having Turtle’s a baby thing! And I’m BIG! And I’m getting bigger! So I don’t need Turtle ever again!’”

His dad thought about this and agreed. His son was getting bigger, but he’s not all big. Daddy picked up Turtle and played with him, making the little boy laugh. Then the boy copied his dad, making his dad laugh. The little boy realized that holding Turtle still felt good. He hugged him close and in no time was fast asleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-torn

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Robie Harris’s sweet story of a little boy and his best friend Turtle reminds kids that no matter how big they get, it’s okay to find comfort in a favorite toy. The story has a deeper meaning for kids as well: things happen; sometimes bad things. But with love mistakes can be cleaned up, scrapes will heal, and scary situations will turn out all right. And when you need them, those who love you are there to help and help make you feel better.

The mishaps Turtle experiences are instantly recognizable and related in a gentile, honest way that will draw kids in. Near the end of the book, kids will root for the little boy and Turtle to patch things up and be best friends again.

Everyone wants a best friend as cool as Turtle! Tor Freeman’s vivid illustrations of the little boy and his plucky stuffed companion are adorable and full of emotion. The close family bonds are well depicted, and the images of the boy hugging Turtle will melt your heart. The looks of anguish on the little boy’s face as Turtle suffers stains and rips elicit sympathy and understanding and are followed up by comforting smiles when Turtle is fixed up.

Turtle and Me would be a terrific addition to home and classroom bookshelves for sweet story times and  when reassurance and a little extra love and comfort are needed.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1499800463

World Turtle Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-turtle-shell-game

Follow the Turtles! Game

 

You can make this fun game from recycled materials and a little creativity! When you’re finished making the turtle shells, have fun guessing where the marble, bead or bean is hiding!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Green tissue paper in different hues
  • Green construction or craft paper
  • A marble, bead, or bean
  • Glue
  • Scissors

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-turtle-game

Directions

  1. Cut the egg carton apart into individual cups. You will need 3 cups for each game made.
  2. Cut the rims of the cups so they sit flat on a table.
  3. If the cups have open sides, fit two cups inside one another to fill the gaps
  4. Cut the tissue paper into small shapes
  5. Brush glue on a cup (I used a paper towel to apply glue)
  6. Cover the egg cup with pieces of tissue paper. Repeat with other cups.
  7. Let dry
  8. Cut a head and feet from the green craft paper
  9. Tape or glue the edges of head and feet to the inside of the cups
  10. Add a face to the head

To play the game:

  1. Line up the cups on a table
  2. Put a bead, bean, or marble under one of the cups
  3. Show the other player which cup the object is under
  4. Quickly move the cups around each other several times
  5. Ask the other player which cup they think the object is under
  6. Take turns playing

Extra Game: Make three more and play turtle tic-tac-toe! 

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