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The Picture Book Buzz

Turtle Pond - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I feel very fortunate to have a greenbelt on two sides of my home. I get the privilege to observe and marvel at the diversity of wildlife that frequents my suburban neighborhood. From the occasional cougar (that's right, walked right behind my house one morning, last week), bobcats, and black bears. To the more common coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and deer. As well as the omnipresent squirrels and birds.

There is always something happening. An ever-rotating picture of changing plants, various migratory birds, or new babies.

James Gladstone's newest picture book celebrates the treasure of a turtle pond in a botanical garden near his house. Where he watched the seasonal changes to the plants and turtles.

Turtle Pond

Author: James Gladstone

Illustrator: Karen Reczuch

Publisher: Groundwood Books (2018)

Ages: 4-7



Nature, turtles, science, and seasons.


What is it about turtles that fascinates us? Is it how they hide inside their patterned shells, their wizened faces, their slow determination?

In Turtle Pond, a child and his parents visit their local public garden throughout the year, observing the turtles as they play, dive, feed, bask, climb, hide and doze. James Gladstone’s lively prose poem reveals the pleasure and curiosity that come from spending time with the turtles. Karen Reczuch’s stunningly beautiful illustrations accurately portray these extraordinary creatures, both in and out of the water, surrounded by lush plants and the changing seasons beyond the greenhouse windows.

Opening Lines:

Turtles . . .

in hidden corners

and secret hollows

beneath wet rocks,

way at the bottom of turtle pond.

Why I like this book:

I find this an interesting nonfiction book. Without the illustrations of a young boy and his family, it would not clear from the text alone who is watching and thinking about the turtles. For instance,

"Autumn . . .

when days are shorter

and turtles scatter

to search for sunlight

in nooks and crannies of turtle pond."

© Text James Gladstone, 2018 © Illustration Karen Reczuch, 2018.

Karen Reczuch’s superb illustrations place the reader in the position of the observer. Closely watching both the turtles and their visitors.

© Text James Gladstone, 2018 © Illustration Karen Reczuch, 2018.

The soft watercolor illustrations follow the text on a circular change of the seasons through the shifting light, clothing of the visitors, and the changing plants in and around the turtle pond. Their tranquility compliments the quiet, slow rhythm of the poetic text.

Throughout the book, a young boy and the reader ponders how long turtles remain under water and when they breathe. How they climb out when all slippery wet and what they eat. Whether they communicate and why the stack on top of each other. Do they see or hear him and what it's like at the pond during the night? While the questions aren't answered in the text, (they are left for the reader to ponder and maybe research for themselves), the illustrations provide some clues. As well as some delightful treasures. Such as the turtle-shaped clouds in a star-speckled, night sky.

Overall, a beautiful view of a year in a turtle pond. The author's note offers information on this specific species and the hope that they will inspire us to care about and protect all turtles around the world.


- because turtles often wonder across a road or into unsafe areas, the Toronto Zoo has tips for helping a turtle (;

- NCTM has a computer resource combining math lessons with moving a turtle to a pond using computer commands (;

- draw or make a collage of your own pond and paper turtles; and

- here are a bunch of turtle crafts (including egg shell turtles & a DIY easy turtle costume -

If you missed it, James Gladstone stopped by to talk about the inspiration for Turtle Pond and his fondness for these turtles, here.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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