cover image Mr. Merlin and the Turtle

Mr. Merlin and the Turtle

Seymour Chwast. Greenwillow Books, $11.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14632-0

A pet turtle may be on the boring side, but as Merlin the magician and Mrs. Merlin find out in this clever lift-the-flap volume, it sure beats the alternatives. Merlin uses his powers to turn the turtle into a progression of increasingly large-- and damage-prone--creatures. First the turtle becomes a bird (which flies out of reach), then a monkey (which wreaks havoc astride a bike) and so on. By the penultimate sequence, the pet is an elephant, and when it swoops up a frightened Mrs. Merlin in its trunk, Merlin can stand it no more and transforms the creature back into the slow but low-maintenance turtle. Each new animal is partially hidden behind a flap featuring the creature to be zapped. When the monkey's flap is flipped, for example, its legs stay behind to become those of the camel. Chwast (The Twelve Circus Rings) employs pen and ink and color film to produce a densely saturated, almost animated effect. Merlin still sports a flowing robe and a star-studded cone-shaped hat, but his incongruous bourgeois lifestyle (a wife, home, front yard, etc.) further heightens the silliness, keeping readers firmly under his spell. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)