Richie, a boy who lives on the Snake River, discovers a rare artifact that he believes will solve all his problems: a turtle-like carved stone bowl that he's sure will bring his dad, who loves relics, back to live with the family. His mom has grown distant, learning what his little sister calls "memos" on yellow slips as virtually her only communication. Richie and his erudite friend Henny, scheming to recover the bowl from the island where it was found, enlist the help of an old geezer who knows about Indian culture. Richie fantasizes that the bowl came from an imaginary tribe, the Turtle People, who had an accepting, turtle-like outlook, and equates his father with a turtle who avoids problems by retreating into his shell; finally, he comes to see that challenges must be met, not ignored. When Dad returns, the outcome is less than satisfactory: the parents' characters are not well enough realized for the reader to understand their decision to reverse roles. Though Guiberson touches on the legal aspects of acquiring such artifacts, Richie eventually gets to keep the bowl. A mild adventure that leaves some strings untied.