Templeton the turtle is an adventurous young tyke. A real go-getter, he’s barely hatched when he asks his mother if he can go exploring. She consents with the condition that he remains nearby so that she can keep an eye on him. Like many youngsters he soon strays beyond his mother’s surveillance and is off on a solitary journey.
On this maiden voyage he encounters many of the residents of the pond that he calls home. Some of the local wildlife are stand-offish, others warm and friendly while still others are large and threatening to a tiny turtle. When the day is done Templeton is returned home to his mother with his shell intact by a helpful pond dweller. This brings the tale to the conclusion that those who dwell in the pond make up a tightly knit community who look out for one another.
Pridmore’s innocent prose brings this delightful story of exploration and community to life in a simple way that young children will resonate with. Though Templeton’s adventure has moments of tension they are all resolved when his friendly neighbour comes to the rescue. While the concluding statements about pond community life are not accurate from a strictly biological point of view -- “Whether we have fur, feathers, flippers, wings, scales, or shells, we all watch over each other down here by the pond” -- children will certainly find the lack of predation reassuring and non-threatening.
Illustrator Michele-lee Phelan’s watercolours are both realistic and stylistic. Each painting is framed with a green, leafy border, providing a lovely but somewhat redundant element throughout the book. The illustrations are already very uniform in their colours -- greens, browns and blues -- nothing too vibrant, all nature-toned. Templeton’s world is small, so there is little variation from scene to scene in the colour palette. While the colour choices are few, many varying shades are incorporated to produce depth and a feeling of realism.