Mussed, chewed, torn, stained—no matter what condition this stuffed animal is in, it remains dearly loved.
From the day he was born, a little unnamed boy has been inseparable from his stuffed Turtle. Now he’s much older, and Turtle’s a bit worse for the wear, having survived spaghetti sauce, a dog’s savage attack, vomit and a brief period of abandonment in the park. Yet it’s a fight with a friend who insists that Turtle’s “a BABY thing!” that almost proves the ungendered toy’s undoing. The boy attempts to go to bed without his childhood companion but finds himself unable to sleep. It takes his father’s intervention to show him how even big boys need their beloved toys from time to time. Wrestling with the desire to be “big” against the equal need for comfort is a rite of passage many children can relate to. Freeman’s images of the porkpie-hatted Turtle show the stuffed animal blessedly free of any emotions save his perpetually cheery smile. The wordless last image of the boy reunited with his friend while his mother fixes Turtle (yet again) will assuage many readers’ fears.
Though she breaks little new ground, Harris attacks a common childhood anxiety with her customary smarts and bracing lack of sentiment. (Picture book. 3-6)