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*Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring* by Ron Pridmore, illustrated by Michele-lee Phelan
Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring
by Ron Pridmore, illustrated by Michele-lee Phelan
Ages 2-4 32 pages Bridgeway Books July 2008 Hardcover    

Templeton Turtle has just hatched from his egg and is eager to explore his world. Although he dutifully promises to stay within view of his mother, of course he soon forgets his promise and wanders farther away from her than what is safe. During his adventures, he encounters the various denizens of the pond that he and his mother call home.

Templeton’s first run-in is with Mr. Blue the heron, who appears annoyed that young Templeton is scaring away the fish in the pond. Next, Templeton runs into a yellow-and-green striped snake who simply flicks his tongue at him before slithering off into the pond.

Templeton finds his next encounters, with Mr. Longlegs the frog and Mrs. Raccoon and her four babies, more to his liking - he’s glad to learn that not everyone at the pond is unfriendly. As Templeton starts to prepare to return home satisfied with his day’s adventures, he runs into a bit of trouble. Luckily, Mr. Blue is there to rescue him and deposit him safely back with his mother.

Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring is a benign tale about a young one’s adventures. Nothing untoward happens through the entire story, making it particularly suitable for very young and sensitive children. In fact, the story ends with Templeton’s mother stating simply, “Whether we have fur, feathers, flippers, wings, scales, or shells, we all watch over each other down here by the pond.” While an older child may note that this is not strictly true (Mr. Blue was, after all, fishing in the pond for a meal), a younger child will find this innocent view of the world reassuring. Although the book is listed for children between the ages of 4-8, it may in fact be better suited for children between the ages of 2-4.

Author Ron Pridmore’s first book speaks clearly of his great love of nature and (of course) turtles. Pridmore hopes that engendering a love of nature over technology such as video games may help more children win their battle against childhood obesity and other problems. The text is choppy at times, but what this book lacks in terms of flow, it makes up for in heart.

The artwork by fantasy/sci-fi illustrator Michelle-Lee Phelan is what is truly outstanding about this book. The gorgeous, detailed paintings are a delight to the senses, with realistic depictions of the natural world that simulate the pond environment with love and care. Although all of the flora and fauna depicted here are shown in engaging and naturalistic detail, Templeton himself steals the show: his soulful eyes, chubby face, and his shell with its pattern of swirls and whorls make him one adorable little turtle.

The book is warm and big-hearted, a recommended addition to a young child’s library.

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  Usha Reynolds/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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