Happy December 2 to you! I’m so excited to share these new books from 2019! This first book is the top of my gift-giving list this year as I adore it so much. If I had to choose a favorite from the year, this would be it. A story about a little girl’s pet tortoise and a seemingly impossible endeavor he undertakes. Be charmed by Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins, 2019.

What is it about?

This story is about Truman, a donut-size tortoise with a faithful, enormous heart. He lives with his Sarah in an apartment building with a window that overlooks the bustling city and the number 11 bus. Truman is a peaceful, pensive tortoise, and has the perfect companion in Sarah.

But one day, Sarah does a lot of things that are unusual in the daily routine: she eats a bigger than usual breakfast, puts on a really big backpack, and she loads up Truman’s dish with extra green beans. Truman knew she always comes back when she leaves, but this time, it was a bit concerning. Then Truman saw Sarah do something he had never seen before… she boarded the bus. He waited a terribly long time, especially in tortoise hours, until he knew he just had to go after her. Truman takes on an amazingly, seemingly impossibly feat and steals every reader’s heart in the process.

Why I picked it

I curiously read this book at the local bookstore a few weeks ago. We all know I love picture books, but this is one of those picture books that just got me and I didn’t want to let go. (A careful reader of this post will notice that this is indeed a library version, so yes, I did exhibit self-control and did not purchase it… yet. Thankfully my library had it and it will be renewed until it can’t any longer. Yay libraries! But, it will quite possibly be a Christmas gift to my children, or most likely, myself.)

Perhaps it is the slow, gentle story-telling that so perfectly fits a tiny tortoise protagonist. Perhaps it is the achingly cute illustrations with the most amazingly expressive dot-eyed characters I’ve possibly ever seen. Or maybe it really is just Truman that makes this book so deeply special. This is one of those stories that looks deceptively simple. The illustrations are flat and adorable. The set is incredibly local. And the storyline is pretty straightforward and predictable, almost. But there are many layers in these pages. Every reread, and we’ve lost count already, there are new little details to discover. Sweet moments that aren’t in the text or even really a major element in the story. The relationship between Sarah and Truman is talked about in so many words, but even more importantly it is felt in the illustrations. I’m astounded by the heart in this book. Maybe I’m overselling it, but I don’t care. I love Truman and I think you will too.

Who will love this

The target audience on this book is incredibly broad. Goodness, who wouldn’t love this book? I really want to know. This is probably going to be my go-to birthday and kid-present book for a while.

Bonus Gift Pairings

So, late that night after first discovering this book at the bookstore, my husband happened to find me googling miniature turtles and how best to keep them as pets. I’m not sure that is the best bonus gift pairing here, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to it (unless you are not the parent of a child you are gifting it to.) My ultimate gift companion suggestion is probably obvious, a sweet stuffed turtle. My favorite is of course the Jellycat brand in the small size. I can’t find a great purchase link to it online, but we see them all the time at our local bookstores, so go local! My daughter calls them Truman now whenever she sees one. There are also many handmade turtles to be found on Etsy, which would be a lovely companion gift and so special! Here’s my current favorite.

I hope you find and get to know sweet Truman when you get a chance, and come back soon for my next favorite book from the year as we countdown to Christmas!