Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends

. illus. by Ashley Spires. 32p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jul. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780060740313.
K-Gr 2-When Turtle and Tortoise hatch in the same British zoo pen at the same time, they know they will be the best of friends until just three sentences into their friendship, tortoise discovers that his pen-mate is a turtle, "a horrid beast with rough skin and a hard shell, while I am a handsome creature with a hard shell and rough skin." At that, both stubborn reptiles go to opposite sides of their pen and spend the next 46 years not being friends. Nothing can bring them together— not learning they might live 100 years, interesting adventures, difficult winters, amazing New Year's fireworks, or being stuck on their backs for 19 years after an ill-fated attempt to play (separately, of course). It isn't until they hear the new zookeeper (son of the original zookeeper) mention that "all tortoises are turtles" that tortoise suggests that they work together to regain their feet and, after cogitating on it for six years, turtle agrees. Soon the two new friends are standing together sharing stories and lettuce. Turtle and Tortoise are given their own voices by way of text bubbles. Spires's photoshop illustrations give the text real life with great facial expressions, sense of place, humor and the perfect use of white space. The passage of time is depicted very subtly and cleverly in the change of the skyline and clothing styles.
VERDICT A tale of two animals split by perceived differences that are brought together by a new knowledge of sameness that raises more questions than it answers.-Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

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