I love Lauren Castillo's illustrations and follow her blog, so when I found out her latest book, Melvin and the Boy, was available and not yet in the Brooklyn Library's Catalog, I boldly emailed the library to find out if they were planning on acquiring it. I was impressed that I received a response that very day to say "Yes!" and I was able to put it on hold before it was even on the shelves.
Well, my very professional review is:
I love it! I love it! I love it!
"The Boy" in the title, narrates his own story, charmingly telling us about his desire for a pet. Unfortunately, his parents give him every excuse in the book (pun intended): dogs are too big, monkeys are too much work, and birds are too noisy. The Boy, however, sees a lovely, fancy turtle in the park and decides he might be just the thing. He names the turtle Melvin, but by the end of the day, determines that Melvin might not be happy as a pet. He returns Melvin to the pond, and his friends, knowing that he can still come back and visit whenever he likes.
The Boy of the story is delightfully sweet and appealing, his words expressed simply and honestly. Castillo's text and illustrative style are equally praiseworthy. The urban setting is smoothly integrated into the story. The end pages which place the turtle in a green foreground against the gray cityscape begin a pattern for the rest of the book. When the Boy walks on the street or is in the park, building and cityscape backdrops rest in sepia or grays while people and pets pop out in a muted color palette.
An author's note about turtles will satisfy curious kids and adults.
Castillo has consolidated the professional reviews in this post.
At Macmillan's website you can print out activity pages for the book (scroll down to the bottom for the link).
Read an interview with the author at Seven Impossible Things.
Read another one of my favorite Castillo-illustrated books, What Happens on Wednesday (written by Emily Jenkins).
Big Kid says: Our teacher has a turtle for a pet.
Little Kid says: That turtle's taking a bath.