Turtle Pond

In his new picture book, James Gladstone (When Planet Earth Was New) escorts the reader through a year in his local public garden's turtle pond. Season by season, the young narrator visits the garden and observes the Red-eared Slider turtles. In springtime, the narrator notes "[t]ummies.../ see how they glisten/ when wet with water./ Bellies gleaming,/ squiggly spots on yellow-green in turtle pond." With an admirable respect for his environment, the boy ponders the turtles' behaviors as well as their interactions with other wildlife and each other: "Piled high--/ one, two, three, four five!/ They climb on each other./ Why do they do that?" The child's scrutiny invites readers to think about turtles and maybe even pursue further exploration of the reptiles themselves.

A calm, gentle rhythm in the poem mimics the slow pace of its title characters, allowing the audience to appreciate fully Karen Reczuch's realistic graphite-and-watercolor illustrations. Rich textures and soft, earth-toned colors enhance the book's images, bringing the natural world in Gladstone's text to life. Plants, animals and humans are all created with careful attention to detail: the hard surface of a turtle's shell, gentle ripples in the pond, delicate flower petals and shadows from the ever-changing sunlight. Reczuch envelops the reader in nature's beauty.

Turtle Pond elicits a sense of wonder and appreciation for this fascinating creature. Blending Gladstone's delightful poetry with Reczuch's polished art makes this journey through the turtle pond's year satisfying and worth repeating. A wonderful picture book for any story time, Turtle Pond is the next best thing to watching the beloved creatures in person. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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