By Valerie Coursen
Henry Hold and Company, LLC
Out of print
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I am partial to stories that involve turtles. This preference would never sway me into appreciating an unworthy book, but it may persuade me to love a good book just a tiny bit more.
Valerie Coursen uses a soft, colorful palette and her illustrations are playful and loose. Her charming prose is uncomplicated; the story follows a series of actions and their consequences. Each new page brings a little more of the town into view and connects one event to the next, resulting in a heartwarming and magical ending.
Mordant (a mole) lives in a hole at the top of a hill. Staring up at the sky, he sees a cloud shaped like a turtle.
“I wish that turtle were real, thought Mordant. I wish that turtle were my friend.”
He blows on the seeds of a fluffy dandelion puff and wishes for his turtle friend. The white seeds fill the air and an incredible chain of events is set in motion.
Calum, riding by on his bike, sails through the downy seeds and thinks of snow. Then he thinks of snow cones, so he makes a stop at Velma’s Famous Snow Cones. While he’s enjoying the treat, some of Calum’s frozen delight drips onto the sidewalk forming a hat-shaped puddle. When Peanut the bird, perched above, sees the puddle she thinks of her Aunt Nat, who owns a hat that very same shape. Peanut decides to pay her aunt a visit.
Aunt Nat is overjoyed to see Peanut and begins singing a very happy song. The barber, Mr. Ricardo, hears the song and is so content humming along that he shaves a smiley face onto the back of Mr. Took’s head!
Blanche the beetle lives in the Fine Fine Antiques shop, where Mr. Took likes to shop. Blanche is depressed over the sale of her favorite buttons—“the pearl ones with the red roses painted on them”—until she spots the cheerful image on Mr. Took’s head.
Though just moments ago she’d been crying, she is so cheered by his new, daring hairdo that she decides to do something daring herself. Blanche hops onto a package headed out the door, then she hops onto a woman in a flowery dress. Quickly flicked away by the woman, she soon finds herself on a beautiful, sweet-smelling rose.
The woman wearing the flowery dress didn’t notice that she dropped her grocery list, nor did most of the people who walked right over it. It was Petunia Mae who picked it up. She liked looking for secret messages in lists and, by combining the first letters of the items on the list, this one was telling her to swim.
While on her way to the lake, Petunia Mae notices a turtle trying to cross the busy road. She doesn’t know that he tries every day but is too afraid of the cars, or that the reason he wants to cross the street is to find out who lives at the top of the nearby hill. Petunia Mae picks up the turtle, crosses the street, and gently places him on the grass at the bottom of the hill.
Mordant’s wish is about to come true, and so is the turtle’s.
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