Melvin and the Boy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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9762901Title: Melvin and the Boy

Written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Published by Henry Holt and Company LLC, 2011

Ages: 2-5

Themes: pets, turtles as pets, doing the right thing

Opening line:

I really want a pet, but I always hear “No.”                                                                               I ask Mom for a dog like that, but she says, “Too Big.”


All his friends have pets so naturally this little boy wants one, too. But receives all the stock reasons why not, when he suggests various pets to his parents. A fortuitous meeting with a turtle in the park, who is surely not TOO loud, or TOO difficult, or TOO noisy, results finally in a ‘yes’ from his parents. Melvin, the turtle, however is not too responsive to the little boy’s attempts to play with it, and is only really in his element at bath time. Melvin has a big boy decision to make.

Why I like this book:

This is a very simple introduction to young children about what makes a great pet and the importance of natural habitat for an animal – all told very much from a child’s point of view. The illustrations are soft and very traditional, which fit well with the gentle nature of the text. There’s a super double-pages spread of Turtle Facts for younger readers at the back of the book with some cute diagrams! A sweet addition for turtle-lovers and those who want a pet (which child doesn’t, huh?) I love Castillo’s choice to give the turtle but not the boy, a name.


If you have some stuffed toys, you could have the children draw the best habitat for each animal.

Make a paper plate turtle at Crafts N Things for Children

Some great turtle awareness activities from Scholastic for Pre K-3.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books

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26 Responses to Melvin and the Boy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. If you have stuffed toys? Haha! Building a habitat for them is a marvelous idea!

  2. How cool. I was just on Lauren’s site this morning checking out her new book City Cat, and I was planning to review another of her books soon. She is amazing, plus I love your craft!

    • Joanna says:

      Joanne, I am interviewing Lauren soon for my Wednesday series, and I can’t wait to see CITY CAT as Kate Banks is not only a fabulous author, but also a friend, and I have been loving the sneak illustrations of this that Lauren has been posting on FB.

  3. This looks like a perfect book for a kid who wants a pet… and I love the idea of making habitats for stuffed animals. Wish I had thought of that when my kids got stuffed dragons!

  4. I love the way Melvin is looking at the boy on the cover! I get the feeling they’re discovering each other equally.

  5. Lovely choice. You always find books about the natural world with a great message about doing what right. Love the cover page.

  6. Cathy says:

    Nice! My red-eared slider was named Slowpoke. He was a good pet until one day he poked no more.

  7. Cute book and interesting that Lauren gave the turtle a name and not the boy. From the title I actually first thought the story was from the turtle’s point of view. Wonderful how we learn to add a slight slant to an already common theme to make it unique! Thanks, Joanna.

  8. Rhythm says:

    I have lots of stuffed animals and make habitats for them regularly. Walker likes for them to have natural habitats outside and I like for them to be city pets indoors in the bathroom. This looks like a great book about turtles of which I know nothing. I’ll have to check it out! Thanks!

  9. Great idea for an activity! Very creative! I like the cover of the book, and the opening too! 😀

  10. Joanna says:

    Thanks, Erik. The illustrations are beautiful!

  11. What a wonderful-sounding book. Like Diane, I thought the book was going to be from the turtle’s perspective, from the title. It sounds like an excellent way to talk with kids about habitat, and about which animals make good pets and which ones don’t. I love your idea about habitats for stuffed animals. Kids could have a good time with that, while learning and researching — and using their imaginations. It’s one thing to figure out the best habitat for your stuffed polar bear, quite another to think about what habitat would best suit a more unusual stuffed toy (such as the ones who inspired Erik’s Tomato and Pea book, for example.)

  12. I think I would have needed to read this book as a child. I loved animals, and wanted all sorts as pets!

  13. I love your activity idea. Sounds like a great book for those of use sorting through the “pet” question recently.

  14. I am afraid to pick up this one for the boys, since I am trying NOT to get a dog right now. I can only imagine the haranguing that would start. 🙂

  15. This does sound sweet. The pet issue is one all families deal with so this a wonderful one to add to the list. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Darshana says:

    Interesting take on the usual “i want a pet” story. I like this, will have to go find this title. Thanks.

  17. Definitely a story most kids AND parents can relate to…looks like a sweet book, Joanna…thanks for recommending it. I know my grandson would LOVE a dog…but that is not going to happen anytime soon. My kids had turtles (and dogs and cats and bunnies and gerbils)…maybe Jeremy’s mom will consider a turtle if he asks for a pet.

  18. Love this twist on a boy getting a pet, and having to look at it from the pet’s point of view. Thanks for adding it to our list 🙂

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