Book Review: Tortoise Soup by Nick Holland
Print Length: 234 pages
Publisher: Kimono Press (December 8, 2013)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Ruby Tinker is an orphan at St. Therese’s Children’s home in England. She has lived there since a terrible car accident that robbed her of her parents and the full use of her legs. But Ruby is not quite alone in the world. She has a beloved companion, tortoise extraordinaire (to say the least) Byron Tinker. No ordinary reptile, Byron can read (albeit slowly), run fast (for a tortoise), he can climb, make up poems, and he loves Ruby with all his heart and soul. Although neither Ruby nor Byron can imagine life without the other, dark and dreadful plans are afoot courtesy of the grim-faced, cold-hearted Miss Scratbakk, owner of the children’s home. Her plans for creating untold wealth depend upon Byron Tinker’s demise. However, a malevolent Fate seems to be assisting her ghastly plot when Ruby’s Uncle Peter informs her he is giving up his career as a globe-trotting diplomat and will be settling in Scotland, and creating a home for his niece. One thing is certain: Uncle Peter will not have pets in the house and Byron is not coming with. To Ruby’s horror, Uncle Peter’s driver collects her for the long drive to Scotland, and Byron is left behind. Before Miss Scratbakk can plonk Byron in a pot of soup (as was her plan), Bryon manages to escape. Will Byron survive the numerous adventures and dangers that face him? Will Miss Scratbakk succeed in her evil plans for the children at the home? Will Byron and Ruby be reunited?
Byron’s escapades are numerous, but this intrepid tortoise takes it all in his stride. His enduring love for Ruby keeps him plodding onward. He meets some kind creatures (the snakes in the pet shop and the wild crane), some helpful people (Miss Tigerlily and the bin men), and even comes close to the Rainbow Bridge, where all animals wait for their owners to cross over with them. But it’s not time for Byron to cross over; he still has lots of life and fun ahead of him with Ruby. This book is about love, friendship, hope, faith, sharing and caring, and belief in a better tomorrow. Kids will quickly absorb these important life lessons, couched as they are in this enchanting story of bravery and adventure. Author Nick Holland (no doubt with Bryon’s valuable input) has created a tale where the wicked are hilariously evil; the various characters have a quirky charm; the animals stand tall, and there is such a brightness that overcomes any doom or gloom as all loose ends are neatly tied up. There is poetry, songs, and many delightful details to put smiles on the faces of readers of all ages. You also learn quite a lot about tortoises, how to care for them, and what they like to eat. PS: They don’t like corned beef-and-mustard sandwiches.
Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.