This beautiful homage conveys complex ideas in concrete ways so children can witness how these extraordinary tortoises survived so long in their particular habitats. Splendid.
The Horn Book
Minor’s painterly illustrations showcase the changing setting and the magnificence of the tortoises.
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The story begins around a million years ago in South America when a vegetarian giant tortoise named Giantess George is swept into the ocean in a storm. She and some other tortoises climb onto a raft of trees, coming ashore on San Cristobel Island. Giantess George lays eggs and lives much as she did before, but finds she must stretch her neck to reach the tree leaves she needs to eat. After many thousands of years the tortoises on San Cristobel all have long necks. Tortoises on other islands have evolved differently. When the islands are discovered in 1535, they become known as the Galápagos Islands, “Islands of the Tortoises.” When people begin to arrive, the tortoises become scarce. The last descendent of Giantess George died in 2012. The future is uncertain, but we know that “…new and unimaginable things” can always happen. The rather disjointed narrative is illustrated stunningly in watercolors with the tortoises in their habitat and other related creatures, mainly on double pages. Charles Darwin makes an appearance. There is much added information, including key terms, a time line, and resource list. Helpful maps are on the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
Jean Craighead George wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of theWolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her other books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Everglades; Arctic Son; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Galapagos George.
Wendell Minor has illustrated numerous award-winning picture books, including Sierra by Diane Siebert, Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin, and America the Beautiful, based on the poem by Katharine Lee Bates. Mr. Minor's art has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Norman Rockwell Museum, among other prestigious institutions. He lives in rural Connecticut with his wife and their two cats, Cindercat and Sofie.