melvinboy

Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo

Released July 5, 2011.

A young boy wants a pet very badly, but his parents always say no.  A dog is too big, a monkey too much work, a parrot too noisy.  One day, he sees a turtle at the park who is looking at him and follows him.  So the boy asks if he can keep it as a pet.  His parents agree, and the boy names the turtle Melvin.  But back home, Melvin won’t play.  He won’t eat.  Walking the turtle doesn’t work either.  The only time Melvin comes out of his shell is when he takes a bath.  The boy can see that Melvin is not happy in their house.  So they return him to the pond, where the boy will be sure to visit him often.

This is the first book that Castillo has both written and illustrated.  Her writing is pitch perfect here, offering just enough detail and with the right phrasing and tone.  It really feels as if a child was speaking in first person without becoming distracting.  I particularly enjoy the fact that the boy himself realizes the turtle is unhappy.  His parents follow his lead with the turtle rather than them leading him to a decision.

As always, Castillo’s art is very successful.  Her art emphasizes the urban setting of the book, playing the greens against the concrete colors nicely.  Her use of thick lines and soft colors makes for a book that is welcoming and warm.

A great addition to any story time on pets or turtles, this is also a wonderful read to start discussions about pets and keeping them safe and happy.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Company.