________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


Spotty & Eddie Learn to Compromise.

Lisa M. Chalifoux. Illustrated by Heather Castles.
Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2008.
16 pp., stapled, $8.99.
ISBN 978-1-4251-5547-6.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Spotty and Eddie were red eared turtles that lived together in a large aquarium. They spent their days swimming, diving and fighting over the best spot under the sun lamp. Both of the turtles wanted to be as close as possible to the sunny warmth of the lamp.

According to the "About the Author" blurb on the book’s back cover, "Lisa's idea for this story originated many years ago as she watched her pet turtles battle over their sunning rock." In real life, hopefully Lisa  gave her pair of turtles another sun lamp or a second or larger rock, but in the story the solution must be arrived at by the two turtle brothers. Every day, Eddie, who is slightly larger than his brother Spotty, would claim the rock's top spot when their owner turned on the sun lamp. However, Spotty would then climb on top of his larger brother, an action which would block out some of Eddie's light and heat. Eddie's solution would then be to "leap off the sunning rock," thereby causing Spotty to fall into the water. {As an aside, "leap" is not a word I would normally associate with turtle behaviour. "Fall" perhaps.} This sequence of "rock" events would then be repeated numerous times throughout the day with the result that "neither one of them had much sunning time." Finally, it is the smaller brother who suggests, "We must learn to compromise," with "compromise" being a term with which Eddie is unfamiliar.

"Com-pro-what?" asked Eddie, blinking his bright little eyes.

"Compromise," said Spotty. "It means that we must learn to share. We both want to have the spot closest to the sun lamp but the only way we will both get what we want is to share the best spot on the rock," said Spotty.

     And so the brothers arrive at a compromise, one that sees them alternating days on the rock's choice spot.

internal art

     Castles' illustrations are, for the most part, quite charming, but she is severely limited in her ability to show any obvious differences between the two turtles as they are both red eared turtles. If Chalifoux had elected to have each turtle belonging to a different turtle species, then their obviously different visual representations would have assisted young readers in more easily recognizing which turtle was which throughout the story. Although Chalifoux's text treated the turtles anthropomorphically, Castles elected to utilize a visually realistic representation of the two reptiles, but three pages from the story's ending, she departs from that approach and shows one turtle swinging from a plant. One other small criticism of Castles' illustrations is that the slope of the turtles' sunning rock is much too steep for them realistically to have been able to climb their way to the top.

     Since Spotty & Eddie Learn to Compromise did have a "message," it is unfortunate that Chalifoux did not utilize the blank page on the inside back cover to educate her readers in another way. As the book could potentially motivate some children to pester their parents into buying red eared turtles as pets, Chalifoux could have briefly indicated the challenges in raising turtles, including the fact that the story's heat lamp was essential to the turtles' health.

     Certainly parents who have to deal with youngsters who seemingly argue with their siblings over every little thing will like the book's message about compromise, but the plot is very thin and the solution is arrived at much too easily.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM's editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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