cover image What Newt Could Do for Turtle

What Newt Could Do for Turtle

Jonathan London. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-259-2

When you're very small, what of value can you possibly offer someone big? London and Voce have created a funny yet pointed fable of the swamp that gives voice to children's anxieties about their own competency. Little orange Newt and Turtle are best friends, but Newt frets that the friendship is too one-sided; it seems that Turtle is always rescuing him from life-threatening scrapes, but Newt is never able to return the favor. When Turtle is flipped on his back by a curious bobcat, however, Newt discovers that he is more than capable of rising to the occasion. Voce's vibrantly colored cartoon illustrations are filled with goofy good humor-her depiction of a contemplative Newt sitting in a lotus position is hilarious. She takes full advantage of the oversize format to play up the contrast in the two heroes' sizes. London, departing from the dreamy tones of his Let the Lynx Come In and The Owl Who Became the Moon, fashions a breezy text with punchy dialogue. Newt, finding the overturned Turtle, asks what he's doing. ""Pretending I'm a bowl of soup!"" comes the reply. ""What does it look like I'm doing?"" Their light touch brings the story's message home without hammering it in. Ages 3-7. (Nov.)