cover image How Old Is Mr. Tortoise?

How Old Is Mr. Tortoise?

Dev Petty, illus. by Ruth Chan. Abrams, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4670-3

All Mr. Tortoise wants for his birthday is to celebrate “a good life with good friends... and good cake”—the latter being a scrumptious, three-tier confectionery covered in pink icing. But these plans are derailed when his animal friends discover that Mr. Tortoise doesn’t know his age. “Then how will we know how many candles to put on your cake?” one asks earnestly. While Mr. Tortoise patiently waits—tying on a polka-dotted napkin and suggesting that candle accuracy doesn’t matter—the animals cogitate. They count the sections of his shell, they extrapolate based on their own experience (a smaller tortoise figures that Mr. Tortoise must be twice as old because he’s twice as big), and they attempt to deduce a birth year from cultural references. Finally, a possible answer emerges; “HOORAY, CAKE!” says Mr. Tortoise. And hooray for Petty (Don’t Eat Bees) and Chan (Thank You, Neighbor!), whose comic hearts beat as one in this impeccably paced story told in graphic novel panels. With deadpan dialogue and endearingly goofy character-focused art, they’ve created a funny and loving salute to friendship, critical thinking, longevity, and cake. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)