cover image Nilo and the Tortoise

Nilo and the Tortoise

Ted Lewin. Scholastic, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-590-96004-5

Lewin (The Storytellers) describes the night a boy spends stranded on one of the Galapagos Islands, through vivid watercolors. Young Nilo stands on the island's shore, calmly accepting the circumstance that his father's fishing boat has been swept out to sea (the father returns by story's end), and takes the opportunity to explore. Encounters with a hostile sea lion, a fearless bird and a companionable giant tortoise make up the episodic, oddly unsuspenseful tale. The prose fluctuates between being evocative and somewhat stiff, as in the sentence, ""The urge to climb upon the [tortoise's] great domed back proved to be irresistible."" Lewin's skillful, realistic watercolors--some bright and lucid, others misty and restricted in palette--are more successful. The meandering pace may help create the sense of exploring an extraordinary place, but the story sags without any narrative tension. Ages 5-8 (May)