Samantha Loses The Box Turtle

Written by Daisy Griffin
Illustrated by Matthew Gauvin
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This book is a fictional story about a girl named Samantha who is traveling with her grandparents and two younger sisters when a box turtle suddenly crosses the road. She pleads with them to stop, and to her surprise grandpa not only rescues the turtle but hands it to her. Once they return home, the girls plead with their parents to keep it, but mom explains that a box turtle needs to live in the wild. She agrees that they can keep it until the next day. Samantha also gets her teacher’s permission to bring the turtle to school.

Many adventures ensue as the turtle they have named Gayzer manages to escape both at home and in the classroom. Samantha introduces us to several of her friends and their reactions to her turtle. Because they are studying the food chain in science, their teacher, Mrs. Klutz, has devised a very clever “answer the question and pass the turtle” game to teach the children. At the same time, the reader is learning a lot of facts about turtles, nature and ecosystems. An element of suspense is introduced when the turtle goes missing and the neighborhood cat somehow gets into the classroom. This causes the entire student body to go into an uproar as everyone in the room desperately searches for Gayzer Samantha is supposed to protect and return her turtle to the nature preserve after school. Now she feels guilty that she may have caused it harm.

This chapter book with beautiful black and white illustrations is just over one hundred pages. The charming way the story is told will entertain children in first grade and up if read in chapters. Older children will amass a great deal of information about reptiles and nature; such as, how to tell the sex of a turtle, what they eat, how they survive in their habitats, and how long they live. The adult characters guide the children, but do not preach or make decisions for them. There is just the right amount of humor like naming the teacher Mrs. Klutz, and the toddler sister placing stickers on the turtle so that she could identify it when searching for it in the nature preserve. I thought the questions based on the book at the end were well done and an excellent resource for teachers to test comprehension. In the conclusion, the author reveals that the story is based on the real life experience of a family with three daughters and grandparents who rescue a box turtle named Gayzer and release it to a nature preserve. She also provides additional fun facts about box turtles and includes her website www.samsanimals.info. I am looking forward to many more animal adventure stories with Samantha and her family.

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