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Once there was a turtle named Fred. He lived with his turtle wife and his ten little turtle children in a small mudhole by the side of a pond""--and, throughout, he has his name and she is ""Fred's wife"" or ""Mrs. Turtle."" ""They had everything they needed and they were very happy""--happy, that is, until a new, better-off turtle family moves in nearby and makes Fred's family discontented with their own shabby possessions. ""If I had a washing machine like the new turtle's wife, I'd have time to make shoo-fly pie every day and not just for special treats,"" says Mrs. Turtle, seen toiling at the scrub board while her wiser husband basks in the sun. But one visit with the new family, whose beach umbrella blows over spilling Mrs. Turtle's drink on her new dress, and whose children are noisy and mean to Fred's, sends Fred's family home so happy with their lot that Mrs. T. makes two shoo-fly pies: a ""super double"" one for Fred who gulps it down without a word and another for her ""dear little ten little turtle children""--but none for herself, Fred's thankless gorging being presumably reward enough. As the anti-materialist fable which Hoban no doubt intended, this is platitudinous, uncompelling in its logic, and far too babyish for children who can read alone. And as for Mrs. Turtle, whose self-effacing labors project another message, intended or not, she should only take a cue from the little red hen.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1977
Publisher: Greenwillow/Morrow