illus. by author. 32p. Putnam. Sept. 2012. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25782-7.
PreS-Gr 3—Mossy, an eastern box turtle, lives in the deep shade of Lilypad Pond, and the moss growing on her carapace offers fertile ground for a variety of plants. The garden on her back draws the attention of a local naturalist who takes the oddity to her museum as a living display. Mossy, unhappy and missing her home (as well as her special turtle friend), is returned to the wild after her portrait is painted for a happy ending all around. The sweet, simply written story reiterates an important message of respect for the environment. But this is a book by Jan Brett, so the watercolor and gouache illustrations trump the narrative in the storytelling. Here, the artist's familiar borders hold a field guide's worth of expert paintings: butterflies, mosses, fungi, wildflowers, orchids, feathers, crystals, shells, insects, fossils, and seeds. They frame each spread, and detailed illustrations follow the text and include predictive medallions that introduce characters or secondary plot details. Labeling the small drawings would have increased the curricular use of the title, but this omission does not detract from the book's overall value. Mossy is a beauty.—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Upon discovering Mossy, a turtle with a garden growing on her back, Dr. Carolina brings her to her museum. But Dr. Carolina's niece senses that Mossy misses pond life. The problem is solved too easily, but the illustrations offer a thrill akin to time travel: Brett's signature elaborate paintings capture Edwardian attire and natural elements in a crisp, woodsy palette.

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