Memoirs of a Tortoise

Oliver the tortoise has had his human, Ike, for a very, very long time now. In fact, they're the same age--80 years old--and practically twins. They both enjoy the slowness of the garden, cool water from the hose on a hot day, and a nice slice of honeydew melon. But when Ike stops visiting the garden, Oliver wonders why his pet has left him so soon. So he makes the long journey to see his mother ten gardens away--she will certainly have the answer. This tender story from the author and illustrator that brought us Memoirs of a Goldfish reminds us to cherish all the days we have with our pets and loved ones.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$16.99 $16.99
$28.99 $28.99
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Dewey E
ATOS Reading Level 2.8
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781534110199), PDF (9781534166806), Hosted ebook (9781534166943)
Copyright 2020
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 11 x 9
Graphics Full-color illustrations

School Library Journal - Memoirs of a Tortoise

School Library Journal Starred Review!

Scillian and Bowers have teamed up on other “Memoirs” stories, and in each of these earlier collaborations, learning to appreciate what you have is an important theme. Appreciation for those who love you and understand you is a theme of this book, but the message is more poignant because one life has been taken by death and there will be no more tomorrows together. The main character, Oliver, is an 80-year-old tortoise whose “pet” human, Ike, who was also 80, has recently died. Prior to Ike’s death, the two lived in the moment, enjoying the simple pleasures of each day, from the warm sun to a tasty snack to the ever-changing face of nature. Oliver cannot imagine why he has been left alone, and he decides to visit his wise, 137-year-old tortoise mother for answers. She tells him, “We only get to have pets in our lives for a little while. . . . So we have to enjoy them every day.” Her answer resonates with Oliver, who returns home to forge a new friendship with Ike’s son. The pace of the story provides reflection time for readers, and the vibrant illustrations capture the joy to be found in meaningful relationships. VERDICT A touching story about slowing down and appreciating those you love.

Kirkus Reviews - Memoirs of a Tortoise

Kirkus Starred Review!!
A tortoise reflects on a year in its life.
Oliver is an 80-year-old tortoise and lives in a sunny, flowery, tropical-looking landscape with his “pet” white human, Ike, who’s also 80. The two are dear friends, and Oliver reflects on how he and Ike love each other and how they have their comfortable daily routines (“Oliver, fetch” says Ike, and they both laugh). But one day Ike is gone, and Oliver, saddened, makes the trek (10 gardens away) to talk with his 137-year-old mother. This gentle, poignant, and humorous story presents the themes of friendship, loss, and appreciation of life’s moments from refreshingly different perspectives: narratively from Oliver’s point of view and visually from the low vantage afforded by Oliver’s stature. Both work wonderfully. The story is both heart-rending and uplifting as Oliver leads readers on a tortoise-speed journey of his quiet moments in the garden and his graceful acceptance of change. It’s also terribly funny in its memoir aspect (“A banana for dinner”) and in the speed (or lack thereof) of Oliver’s journey to see his mother. Bowers’ vibrantly colorful illustrations bring the Florida-like landscape to life with full-bleed single-page– and double-page–spread illustrations while the choice to use an illustrative perspective mainly from Oliver’s close-to-the-ground view gives readers a strong sense of being right there.
An unusual and wonderful gem

Memoirs of a Tortoise - Activity Pages

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Author: Devin Scillian

Devin Scillian is an award-winning author, broadcast journalist, and musician. He presently anchors the news for WDIV-TV in Detroit. He has traveled the world covering news stories from Sydney to Siberia. His school presentations have inspired countless children to think of themselves as not only readers, but writers as well.
In addition to Memoirs of a Goldfish, Memoirs of a Hamster, Memoirs of an Elf, and Memoirs of a Parrot, Devin is also the author of numerous books for Sleeping Bear Press including the national bestseller A is for America: An American Alphabet. Devin lives in Michigan with his family. Find out more about Devin at

Illustrator: Tim Bowers

Even at a young age, Tim Bowers's artwork reflected a strong sense of humor and an interest in animals. Prior to illustrating children's books, Tim worked as an artist for Hallmark Cards, where he helped launch the popular Shoebox Greetings card line. His first children's book, The Toy Circus, was published in 1986. He now has illustrated more than 25 children's books and garnered various awards including the Chicago Public Library's "Best of the Best" list and several Junior Library Guild selections. Tim's artwork has been included in the Society of Illustrators Annual Art Exhibition and the S.I. Humor Exhibition, as well as featured in children's magazines, used on a wide variety of products, and appeared on hundreds of greeting cards. Original paintings from several books are in private and institutional collections across the country. Tim lives with his family in Granville, Ohio, and travels to schools and libraries to share his work with students.

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Full-color illustrations