cover image Alfie (The Turtle That Disappeared)

Alfie (The Turtle That Disappeared)

Thyra Heder. Abrams, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2529-6

Alfie is a pet turtle, and his new owner Nia, an African-American girl with braided hair and plenty of curiosity, tries hard to find ways to relate to him. “I taught him my wiggle dance and made him presents,” she says, “but he didn’t seem to notice.” Nia’s interest cools somewhat; then, on her seventh birthday, Alfie disappears. After a pause indicated by a spread with no text, the story resumes, now narrated by Alfie. It turns out that he’s been paying more attention than anyone knew: “Nia taught me how to dance!” he explains. “She gave me presents! I had never been given presents.” Hoping to find the perfect birthday gift for Nia, Alfie sets out on a shopping trip, and Heder’s story really begins to shine as Alfie gets help from Toby (the family hound) and a snail in the backyard. Her watercolor spreads are carefully executed with few stylistic mannerisms; all the attention is directed toward the characters. It’s a treat watching Alfie deliver Nia the perfect birthday present—albeit a little late. Ages 4–8. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Oct.)