Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends
Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends
“Oh, but I’m not a turtle,” said the tortoise, not quite so warmly. “I’m a tortoise. A turtle is a horrid beast with rough skin and a hard shell, while I am a handsome creature with a hard shell and rough skin.”
“I understand,” said the turtle, even though he didn’t. “I guess we can’t be friends.”
“It just wouldn’t make any sense,” said the tortoise.
And so the turtle and the tortoise walked to opposite sides of the pen.
In the heart of London, England, there were two eggs that lay in a pen next to each other. One hatched a turtle; the other a tortoise. Readers may believe that they are destined to become best friends, right…? Wrong! Though they begin as best friends, the self-proclaimed “Terrible Turtle Twins’” friendship falls apart once tortoise discovers that they are not the same. At a turtle’s pace, they go their separate ways and move to opposite sides of the pen. For years, they keep to themselves until a big red ball lands right in the middle of the pen. Racing as fast as they could to get it (which is not fast at all), turtle finally reaches it seven years later. Not sure what to do with the ball, he proudly stands on top. Stands, that is, until it rolls, and turtle becomes stuck laying on his back. Proud to rub it in, tortoise reaches the ball and climbs on top as well. Lo and behold, tortoise becomes stuck on his back, too. Stubborn as they were, the pair spent the next 17 years like this. Eventually, the zookeeper stops by with a group of schoolchildren and explains that tortoises are really turtles! Knowing this information, could they become best friends again? Tortoise wasn’t so sure... At his tortoise pace, he makes his decision six years later and hesitantly agrees that they could work together to flip themselves over. They then become “fast friends”.
Mike Reiss is a clever writer who plays on words to add humour. He developed a silly storyline which appeals to the intended age audience. In addition to the dialogue between the turtle and tortoise in the story text, the illustrations include short speech bubbles in which the duo share their funny thoughts. The unique illustrations by Ashley Spires enhance the lightheartedness of the book. The exaggerated facial expressions say a thousand words. Children who may not yet be able to decode words would have no problems following what is happening in the story through the illustrations alone. For young children who would like to decode the blocks of text, the various placements scattered on some pages may be difficult to navigate independently.
The theme of this story is that you can’t judge someone by their “shell” or outward appearance. Though this topic could be relatable to the audience in a serious way where someone is judging others or being judged themselves, this story is a light way to teach young children an important lesson. Since most stories about friendship tend to be predictable and heartwarming, this humorous take on a broken friendship makes the book unique and appealing. Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends would make a great addition to any parent, teacher, or librarians’ collections.
Reiss is a comedic multi-Emmy Award-winning writer of television, film, children’s books, and theater, including the well-known children’s movie Despicable Me. A graduate of Harvard University, he currently lives in New York City.
Spires has illustrated numerous other books, some of which she has also authored. An animal lover, she resides in British Columbia.
Andrea Boyd, an Early Years teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is currently pursuing her Master of Education degree specializing in Language and Literature at the University of Manitoba.