A boy wants a pet, but his parents turn down his requests until he asks to bring a turtle home from a pond in the park.
Castillo’s illustrations, rendered in acetone transfer with watercolor and markers, have a soft visual texture, nicely aligning with the story’s quiet nature. Subtle humor punctuates the narrative as the boy diligently tries to play with his pet, whom he calls Melvin (“because Melvin is a good name for a turtle”). But the turtle “is hiding…[dis]likes pretzels…is shy…doesn’t even want to meet the other pets…[and] tries to sneak away.” Melvin finally emerges from his shell when the boy gives him a bath before bedtime, making him think that perhaps the turtle wants to return to the pond. The next day, the family returns Melvin to the pond, and the boy watches him swim toward two sunbathing turtles. Castillo deftly captures the child’s conflicted feelings with a tender expression of sorrow, his brow furrowed and his hand held to his mouth. The final image of three turtles together, facing a silhouetted, distant picture of the boy walking away with his parents, lends a comforting symmetry to the story as they boy says, “I can’t wait to visit him tomorrow!”
Emotionally true and therefore highly satisfying. (Picture book. 3-6)