Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo

Like many kids, the unnamed boy in Melvin and the Boy longs to have a pet — especially when it seems like all the other children in the neighbourhood have one. But just when he thinks he’s found the perfect pet — a little turtle that he brings home from the park and which he names Melvin — in spite of his best intentions, things don’t turn out according to plan.

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Complemented with soft, winsome illustrations that quietly capture the boy’s changing emotions — from his innocent excitement about getting a pet to his palpable disappointment when Melvin chooses to withdraw into his shell — this gentle, non-judgmental tale is a great way to open up a discussion with children about respecting nature and animals in the wild, as well as whether certain animals are suited for a life in captivity.

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I particularly liked how the boy gradually forms his own conclusion that he may not have done the right thing, and sets out to put things right again. After all, part of growing up is learning from the mistakes we make.

Note: There’s also a two-page spread with interesting turtle facts at the end of the book.

p.s. While it’s true that the boy’s parents probably should have known better than to allow him to keep the turtle in the first place, in the real world, parents do make such errors of judgement. #keepingitreal

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