Turtle and Me by Robie H. Harris and Tor Freeman

I think it’s really sweet to see a child develop an attachment to a favourite stuffed toy. After all, the imaginative play that often ensues offers him or her an invaluable taste of what friendship entails and what it can offer. And if there’s one book that sums up this special relationship, then Turtle and Me would be it.

Here, we see Turtle — like so many beloved toys — almost becoming a part of the family as soon as the boy is born, and being a reliable source of comfort and companionship for him as he grows up. On his part, the boy remains loyal to Turtle, playing with it every day and hugging it to sleep every night, even when it inevitably becomes worn, stained and repeatedly torn and mended.

I really liked that the author chose an uncommon turtle stuffed toy for the protagonist instead of a slightly clichéd bunny or bear (as adorable as those are), as well as how the heartwarming story and illustrations gently show the gradual shift in dynamics between the boy and Turtle as he grows up, and how his understanding parents accommodate Turtle’s role in their lives.

Also, I think it’s reassuring for kids to see that it’s perfectly OK not to give up their beloved “baby” toys if they are not ready to, even when they are clearly not one anymore.

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