cover image The Great Turtle Drive

The Great Turtle Drive

Steve Sanfield. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $12 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-85834-8

Cowpokes meet slowpokes in Sanfield's (The Adventures of High John the Conqueror) wry, tall tale set in the Old West. After paying a steep price for a bowl of turtle soup at Frenchy's Gourmet Eating Establishment and Pizza Parlor in Kansas City, a resourceful cowboy figures he can make a fortune by supplying the chef with the key ingredient. Rounding up 20,000 turtles is a piece of cake, but herding them from west Texas to Kansas City is another story, and a decidedly diverting one at that. Zimmer's (The Moonbow of Mr. B. Bones) intricate two-color art offers a fittingly hyperbolic portrayal of the dilemmas the determined cowboy must solve. First he has to deal with their pace: ""We were only making 85 or 90 yards a day."" They wander off in all directions during rest stops, until he learns to flip them all on their backs each night. To keep them warm in winter, he buries them, but while underground they do ""whatever it is that boy turtles and girl turtles do together,"" and the size of his herd grows to 500,000 over five years. Zimmer endows these carapace-carrying critters with a range of histrionic facial expressions. While he crowds each spread with a wealth of detail, the restrictions of two-color art keep the comedy just this side of chaos. Ages 4-8. (June)