3 out of 4 stars
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When a little turtle named Courage is born without a shell, he grows up being ridiculed by the other woodland creatures living in Forest Bay. Courage often feels inadequate and incomplete, but he tries to keep his feelings hidden by crying behind closed doors. On a daily basis, he feels teased, taunted, and mistreated, and a great majority of the hurtful behavior is instigated by his older brother, Speedy. Courage’s parents and older sister try to offer him consistent emotional support and encouragement, but nothing seems to fill the void he feels inside his heart. When a sudden storm arrives in the skies above the forest, chaos and injuries result. While offering aid to a fallen acquaintance, Courage loses consciousness and senses the sudden arrival of a magical fairy god turtle who grants him three wishes.
Will he finally have the chance to request the missing shell of his dreams, or will he decide to make benevolent requests that collectively help his neighbors instead? Will Courage ultimately succeed in accepting his unique differences as gifts, or will he secure a sturdy shell to ensure he gains everyone’s valued friendship and adoration? Written by first-time author Artoine Jones, Courage the Turtle was a unique and colorful children’s book. The 40-page story included 12 full-page illustrations, and there was an equal gender representation depicted throughout the cast. The adolescent forest creatures wore a variety of backpacks, shoes, dresses, and headbands, and they all walked upright on two legs. I appreciate stories that assign anthropomorphic attributes to the main players, and this author succeeded in believably humanizing all of the named animal characters. All of the dialogue was genuine and relatable, and young readers would likely enjoy encountering mentions of purple Popsicles, relay races, rainbows, and rubies.
I was also pleased to see unique character names, such as Don “O” the Platypus, Shirley the Squirrel, Pokey the Porcupine, and Gladys the Rabbit. I suspect that kids would be attentive to the electrically charged presence of thunderstorms, lightning strikes, and forest fires, too. I feel this book would be appropriate for children between the ages of seven and ten. The storyline ultimately promoted simple messages of love, peace, and kindness, but there were quite a few words present on each page of typed text, and some of the themes might be a little frightening for younger readers.
While there were implied mentions of ridicule, shame, humiliation, loneliness, and shattered self-worth, there were also many positive qualities present, such as ingenuity, bravery, kindness, and perseverance. I did encounter more than ten grammatical and typographical errors while reading, so this story would benefit from another round of thorough editing, but these minor mistakes and inconsistencies were the only things I disliked about the book. The overall length was satisfactory, and a fitting conclusion was present.
Due to the aforementioned errors, I must award this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars, but it was a truly inspirational story with an encouraging and uplifting message. Anyone who has ever tried to put on a grin to mask their true feelings will relate to this sensitive turtle’s emotional plight. While we all wish to be accepted, no one is capable of achieving a truly unblemished life of perfection. This plot reminds us all to embrace and celebrate the differences that make us individually unique.
Courage the turtle
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