cover image Sandman & the Turtle

Sandman & the Turtle

Michael Morpurgo. Philomel Books, $14.95 (79pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22672-4

A pitch-perfect delivery brightens this familiar-seeming tale about stories that come true. Visiting his relatives at their farm in Wales every summer, Michael looks forward to Gramps's storytelling, ``like a long, happy sigh at the end of each day.'' The stories are so much a part of the fabric of the summer that when Michael takes his seven-year-old cousin, Polly, to the beach and creates a Sandman like the one Gramps has described, it does not entirely surprise them that the Sandman wakes up and eats their picnic. Determined to help the Sandman return to his native Ireland, they enlist the help of another character from Gramps's repertoire. Predictably, the family reacts to Polly's progress reports with good-natured disbelief (Michael carefully evades the issue). Consequently there is some satisfaction when the various characters reveal themselves to Gramps and Aunt Eleri, especially when Aunt Eleri proves herself a worthy hostess by producing miraculous quantities of tea. Inextricably linking summer holidays with magic, Morpurgo (Waiting for Anya) casts a spell with his ambient dialogue-the Sandman's brogue and the British inflections rise from the page like music. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)