Tag Archives: Childrens Book

Tortoise and the Soldier

Tortoise and soldier

The Tortoise and the Soldier by Michael Foreman
Age range:7-12
Hardcover, 128 pages
Henry Holt and Co, November 24, 2015

Saw this pop up in my McMillan new book feed and bought it immediately.
This one is going in our school library And my home library. (I am delivering two books to our library today so great day!)
First, full disclosure, I have a tortoise obsessed son who Loves military history so I took a chance based on the description that this would be something he would want to read.
Now this book is a bit young for his reading level (and just like me he read it in one sitting yesterday evening). But it is a wonderful story with beautiful watercolor illustrations and real photographs throughout.

The story starts in the 1950s with our narrator Trevor, going to visit an older gentleman in his small English village who has a tortoise. The Editor wants to know if the tortoise has woken up from his Winter bromation and is walking about yet. So over on his old rickety bike rushes the young teen to see what the big deal about this tortoise is. Trevor asks Mr Friston what’s the tortoises’ story. So while Trevor works around the yard, Mr Friston, recounts his story as a young sailor aboard the HMS Implacable.
Along the way we meet Mr Henry Friston as a young man, Ali Pasha (prince among tortoises), and many exotic locations where Henry was stationed during WWI. I am sure a bit of artistic liscense has been taken, but the book is filled with actual pictures of Henry, the tortoise, and artifacts from Henry’ time in the Royal Navy. The stories about Galipoli are realistic and not pretty, but Mr Foreman tempers the death and tragedy of trench warfare with occasional sometimes dark humor. My favorite is when a truce is called where both sides took “a half time in hell” for first aid and burial to be rendered to both sides. Or later when Henry is carting aboard crates of dates (Ali’ favorite food). This is a middle grade book though, and while some of the story might give sensitive readers pause, it is done in small doses with a huge dollop of compassion and humanity to balance the horror. Besides this is a story about war, and trench ware fare no less.

The author Mr Foreman does explain that he met Mr Friston driving the local bus usually filled with soldiers in WWII, and became friends with Dan, Mr Friston’ son. It was Dan who introduced Michael to Ali Pasha, and he grew up hearing stories about Henry’ time in WWI over many years. So while the story about Henry and his adventures with Ali Pasha are true, the narrative about the newspaper and a young boy learning about it over days is not.

A Play in Four Acts

So I was in-between several edits and reads and thought I would search for some great children’s illustrated books for the library.  This one caught my eye and so I requested it.



Sequoyah and his talking leaves: a play about the cherokee Syllabary

by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin

Illustrated by Siri Weber Feeney

40Pgs (all formats)

This book is is a play in four acts with twelve character parts about Sequoyah (S-si-qua-ya) during the time  he created the written language of the Cherokee.

I was looking for books to add to our library that tell about important Native American figures and their roles in history.  Now to be fair, it has all the elements that I was looking for in a children’s book about this subject:  lovely illustrations, history and a little bit of drama.

I can see reading this in a classroom, but it is a little too simplistic for our older high-school and upper middle schoolers to do, but a little long for our younger kids.  Also there is no pronunciation guide for the Cherokee words and symbols in this story so in several parts despite it being written I have no idea how it should be said.  I love plays that make our children think and I can say this is worth reading, but with 12 parts might be a little difficult to simply read to your children.  It is a play that needs many voices (though some parts can be read as a single person).

Please note that while broad facts are known, some of the details were made up for dramatic effect.  The last few pages of the book include more information about Sequoyah and where to find more about the Cherokee writing system as well as curriculum links.  My favorite is the Cherokee nation’s website at www.Charokee.org.