Usually when I am searching for a particular book, I’ll find my intended target. Occasionally, I’ll stumble on something unexpected and be delighted by the slight diversion. Such was the case during a recent trip to the Louisville Public library. My electronic search for “picture books-India,” included Eve Bunting’s Emma’s Turtle (illustrated by Marsha Winborn, Boyd Mills Press, 2007).
Hmm, I was unfamiliar with this title and was curious to see what one of my favorite picture book authors had written about India. Well, India was only part of this delightful story.
I hemmed and hawed. A cover with an over sized turtle with patches from India, Kenya, China, Australia, and Africa on its shell caused a double take. It happened again. An unsuspecting book cover caused me to check out a book like a marketing promotion that hooks people into making an unplanned purchase. I added Emma’s Turtle to my pile even though it wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for. Isn’t that the beauty of picking out books?
The turtle in this story could understand English, but was unable to communicate with his human caretaker, Emma. By listening to Emma, the turtle was aware of faraway places- Africa, Australia, China and India- and longed for an adventure. After escaping from the confines of his outside pen, his imagination led him to exotic places. He mistakenly thought that the local scenery was more than it was. Oh, the power of one’s imagination can be enriching. We don’t have to travel far in order to appreciate our lives.
After completing the picture book, I was thrilled that I had not passed on this sweet story. An adventure- real or imaginary-is always worth taking even when it causes a slight detour.
I would recommend adding Emma’s Turtle to your read aloud list especially if you’re underlying message includes the importance of imagination and curiosity or the desire to take adventures. With more than a hundred books to choose from this Caldecott winning author, you’d have to make the judgment call whether this book would be included in an author study that focused on her works.
Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. She periodically reviews children’s books.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.