Classmates come up with a creative solution to help a fellow tortoise in this debut picture book.
On his first day at a new school, a tortoise named Helix informs his class that he is unable to use his back legs. On the playground, Helix’s classmates invite him to participate in activities like tag and hopscotch. But due to his immobile legs, Helix can’t join them. Finally, a student named Herman offers Helix a skateboard to ride, enabling him to move around. Helix is thrilled that he can participate in physical activities. At dinner, he tells his parents about his new friends who “helped me play all the games I thought I would never be able to play.” In Betz’s story, the sentiment underscoring kindness is well done and not overly complicated. The repetition featured here (as when Helix frequently replies to his friends: “I am not good…yet…but I will try”) is appropriate for young readers. Icuza’s (The Purple Pickle, 2019, etc.) colorful, graphiclike illustrations offer cheerful tortoise portrayals and fun details. In the well-documented backmatter, the author explains how the characters are modeled after actual tortoise breeds (a classmate named Star is an Indian Star Tortoise), providing his own photographs and shots by others and scientific facts. Betz also reveals that the book is inspired by a true story and includes Instagram photos and specifics about the real Helix, a disabled tortoise fitted with wheels.
A sweet animal tale with intriguing origins and thoughtful backmatter.