Heron and Turtle
Valeri Gorbachev. Philomel Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24321-9
As easy-to-read as a first chapter book, this full-sized picture book includes simple language, three short chapters, and two buddies in the title roles. The stories exude a quiet charm with language courtly and formal ("" 'Good morning, Heron,' said Turtle. 'It is a beautiful day today. Would you like to go for a walk with me?'... 'But, friend Heron,' cried Turtle, 'you go too fast' ""). The theme of each story emphasizes cooperation: when Turtle can't keep up with Heron's long legs, they decide to ride in Turtle's boat instead. When Heron visits Turtle, he takes a very long time to pile up benches to make Heron comfortable. When the two friends listen to beautiful nighttime noises, they remind each other that they are best friends. What the stories lack in drama, they make up for with beguiling illustrations. The affection the characters share emanates from Gorbechev's captivating pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations. Turtle wears a character-defining striped shirt and blue baseball cap while tall heron sports a Gone with the Wind ruffled dress with a polka-dot purple bow and matching wide-brimmed bonnet. Expressive minor characters appear throughout-young frogs gleefully jump off a pier, a contented beaver rows a boat in the moonlight-and the peaceful, loving tone will make the book appropriate for a bedtime story that ends with a hug. Ages 4-8.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2006