In this thinly disguised ecology lesson, a young turtle named Benjamin tries to save his friends in Turtle Pond from certain destruction.
All of the denizens of the pond fear the â€œTulegs,” those â€œcold, cruel, and calculating” monsters that destroy turtles, and the â€œrumblers,” who are â€œlarge and loud” and â€œma[k]e the earth shudder and the pond shake.” When Dot, a young spotted turtle, arrives with news that her pond has been destroyed by rumblers, and that Turtle Pond also lies in peril, it falls to Benjamin to save the tribe. Along the way, he’s hit by a rumbler, but rescued by a young tuleg, becoming her pet. When her family takes him to a picnic at a beautiful new pond, Benjamin realizes he has found the paradise he seeks for his tribe. Because the story is told entirely from the turtle’s point of view, it will work well as an educational device that teaches children kindness to animals. Additionally, the author effectively develops each of the secondary characters: Wibble, the cowardly turtle who has an obsession with candy wrappers; Hopper, the little frog who acts with consistent bravado; and Jeremiah, the wise old snapper. Although the prose is a bit choppy in the first few chapters, Riley finds her voice soon enough to weave plenty of suspense into her tale of courage.
Purposeful, but the writing shows promise. (Fiction. 6-12)