Written and Illustrated by Jan Brett

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012

On a misty, moisty morning, a young turtle stood at the edge of Lilypad Pond.  Her name was Mossy.

The plot in a nutshell:  A turtle with a garden growing on her back becomes a museum attraction

Mossy the box turtle spends so much time in her damp pond that moss begins to grow on her back.  Then other plants and wildflowers grow in the moss.  She spies a handsome turtle named Scoot, but before they can get to know each other, a museum curator named Dr. Carolina picks up Mossy and takes her to her museum.  Dr. Carolina and her niece, Tory, set Mossy up in a viewing pavilion that mimics her pond home and she becomes a very popular museum attraction.  Dr. Carolina points out that Mossy is safe and well cared for and that she could live to be a hundred years old under their care.  But Tory asks her aunt if she thinks Mossy is happy and worries that she misses her home and friends.  So Dr. Carolina has artists paint a portrait of Mossy to stay forever on display at the museum and she and Tory return Mossy to her home, where she is reunited with Scoot.

Nature is one of the world's best artists.

Nature is one of the world’s best artists.

Author/illustrator Jan Brett has written and illustrated more than twenty picture books, often showcasing the animals or cultures of different parts of the world.  Mossy came about when she and her husband were sitting by a lake and saw a turtle with weeds growing from a shell swimming under the water.  The experience also inspired them to create a turtle pond at their home.  Her respect for box turtles comes through vividly in this book and the artwork is gorgeous.

The illustrations are done in watercolor and gouache and are framed with drawings of flowers, butterflies or other living things.  Along the frames are inset pictures that share more of the story or allow you better glimpses of the characters or action.  If you’re new to Ms. Brett, I suggest you visit her web page and try the Hedgie Book-a-matic, which allows you to answer a few questions to determine the best Jan Brett book match for you.  (My match is Goldilocks and the Three Bears.)

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that works of art should be admired, but living works of art should also be allowed to live their lives.


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