cover image Melvin and the Boy

Melvin and the Boy

Lauren Castillo. Holt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8929-5

In her authorial debut, about a boy whose experiment in turtle ownership doesn't quite work out, illustrator Castillo's (Alfie Runs Away) gently outlined drawings help to soften a potentially disappointing situation. Melvin fulfills the boy narrator's parents' conditions for pets%E2%80%94he's not too big, and he doesn't demand too much work. But he's withdrawn ("When I take Melvin outside to meet my friends, he is shy," says the boy as his friends surround a firmly shutup shell), and he's not very active, either. "I have to carry him all the way home," says the boy, his red leash fastened to Melvin's shell, which sits stolidly on the sidewalk. The boy's parents offer surprising support, allowing their son to bring Melvin home from the park, but the decision to return Melvin is the boy's own: "[W]hen I set Melvin free, he goes right into the pond where two other turtles are sunbathing.... %E2%80%98We should let him stay here,' I say." It's an honest account of a small, manageable failure, with a lemonade-from-lemons moment at the end: "I can't wait to visit him tomorrow!" Ages 4%E2%80%938. (July)