Old Mrs. Tortoise discovers wrinkles. It doesn’t make her day.
Mrs. Tortoise likes to start her morning at the pond to freshen up. This particular day, “she felt like something extraordinary was about to happen to her.” What with this premonition, along with Wimmer’s warm, mystical landscapes, Merlán has set the stage. And that special something is: Mrs. Tortoise’s reflection, which she clearly has never reflected upon. “Her face was wrinkled and her shell looked worn out. It was right then that she felt old and very, very sad.” Her good friend Birdie happens by. Birdie is even more colorful than Mrs. Tortoise’s turtleneck sweater. Seeing she is in the dumps, Birdie tries several spectacular efforts to cheer her up, but none suit. Finally Mrs. Tortoise snaps at Birdie, her rage taking him off his feet. Mrs. Tortoise then gets a serious bout of guilt, then collapses into a deep sleep—giving Birdie the chance to pull a neat trick to brighten Mrs. Tortoise’s next day. Mrs. Tortoise is thrilled, and apologizes for being mean. Birdie accepts. At first it feels that Birdie had to go to a great deal of effort and trouble for—what? an apology?—and that Merlán’s story lacks a reckoning. But the reckoning, and the extraordinary thing, is Birdie going the extra mile for a friend.
It’s a little roundabout, but this friendship tale gets there in the end. (Picture book. 4-8)