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A charming tale sure to pique kids’ interest in Scotland—and tortoises.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Two tortoises make a home with humans near Loch Ness, Scotland, in this rhyming story about a decades-long relationship between a woman and her pets.

Neeps and Tattie, two tortoises, live in a bothy—a small hut—near Loch Ness with an older woman named Annie and her dogs, Angus and Tess. The story flashes back to when Annie adopted the tortoises 52 years earlier, when she was 10. Young Annie builds a small home for them in her garden and takes care of them for decades, both indoors and outdoors, where the tortoises like to play hide-and-seek with the dogs. When the weather cools, Annie brings the pair inside to hibernate in her refrigerator until spring. Johnson and Madden show the joys of long-lived pet ownership in accessible rhyming phrases. Youngsters are likely to chuckle at the refrigerator hibernation in Swartz’s full-color illustrations, which feature two tortoises withdrawn into shells on a tray labeled “Do Not Eat.” Scottish terms such as bothy and loch are explained in a glossary, but readers won’t need definitions to understand the tale. (The meanings behind the tortoises’ names, however, may elicit giggles.) Painted images capture the pastoral setting on Loch Ness and give the straightforward story a whimsical feel, hiding familiar shapes in bushes and clouds.

A charming tale sure to pique kids’ interest in Scotland—and tortoises.

Pub Date: April 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781633813472

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021


Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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