Friendship is the best gift of all--that's the moral of this affable tale starring Titus Turtle and Fuller Frog, a pair of best buddies who set out for a visit at a spot midway between their homes. Each wants to surprise the other with a present: Titus knits a sweater (turtleneck, naturally) for Fuller, and Fuller bakes a cake for Titus. Unbeknownst to either of them, the journey proves hazardous to their accoutrements--the sweater snags on a branch and slowly unravels until all that's left is a sleeve; a trio of birds demolishes the cake until only a puddle of whipped cream and a few berries remain. Though disappointed, Titus and Fuller overlook the state of their radically diminished gifts (``I adore berries and cream!''; ``A winter scarf is just what I've wanted!''), focusing instead on the joy of simply being together. Watts charts the friends' journey with panache, drawing on a near-tropical palette for his color-drenched illustrations. Readers looking for stories in the quiet tradition of the Frog and Toad series will cozy right up to this collaboration. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
K-Gr 2-- One morning, Titus Turtle writes to his friend Fuller Frog, suggesting that they meet halfway between their houses for a long-overdue visit. Each packs a gift for the other, and they set off. Along the way, however, the red turtleneck sweater that Titus has knitted for his friend snags on a branch and begins to unravel, while the chocolate cake that Fuller has baked becomes a snack for some birds. Their mutual dismay disappears upon their reunion, when they make the best of the decimated presents, knowing that their friendship is the most important gift of all. This rather lame and pedantic tale is illustrated in vivid acrylics depicting anthropomorphized woodland creatures wending their way through a sun-dappled landscape. A book about friendship that doesn't quite cut it. --Anna DeWind, Milwaukee Public Library
Titus Turtle and Fuller Frog are best friends who live far from each other but decide to meet halfway for a visit. Titus has knit Fuller a sweater, and Fuller has made Titus a cake, but disaster befalls both presents on the journeys--the sweater unravels, and birds eat the cake. Instead of letting the ruined gifts ruin the reunion, Titus and Fuller realize that their friendship is the best present of all. On the surface this story may seem to be nothing new, but there is something eminently likable about Schindel's easy-going text, featuring an amusing cast of characters the animals meet along the way. Watts' art starts out bright and becomes more deeply hued as Titus and Fuller make their way further into the forest where they are to meet. In other hands, the story's message might come across as heavy-handed, but author and illustrator leaven it with humor.