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Who Wants a Tortoise?
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Who Wants a Tortoise?

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  386 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Could there be any better pet than a puppy? One young girl is about to find out. From beloved author Dave Keane and acclaimed illustrator K.G. Campbell, a laugh-out-loud story of unexpected friendship!
When the spunky, loveable narrator receives a tortoise for her birthday, instead of the cuddly puppy she’s longed for her entire life, she’s more than a little disappoint
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  386 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Josh Caporale
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This is a cute little book that answers the questions of: What is a tortoise really thinking? and Will we ever know? The young girl, who is the subject of this piece, really wants a puppy for her birthday and thinks and dreams about all of the great things that she could do with her new puppy friend that she can only assure she is getting for her birthday. However, her father is allergic to dogs and the most her parents can settle on is a tortoise. The young girl is not too thrilled at
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A little girl has been longing for a puppy for her entire life. She has lists of dog names, read about training, and dreamed about life with a puppy. So when she opens the box with holes in the top on her birthday, she is dismayed to discover a tortoise inside. Her father had told her he was allergic to dogs, but she had still dreamed of having one. Now she has a cold-blooded reptile. She has no ideas for names for him, so she doesn’t name him anything. She figures out that he can’t play fetch, ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Skip this one and read Sparky or Prudence Wants a Pet instead.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I still just what a dog but it might have changed other kids minds!!!!
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading this I think I may want a tortoise 🐢
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: first and second graders
Recommended to Relyn by: Show Me nominating committee
Shelves: library-lessons
This adorable picture book is a Show Me nominee this year. I love the way our little narrator slowly falls in love with her not-the-puppy-I-wanted tortoise. Fantastic!
Ruth Anne
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, picture-books
A little girl has been waiting her whole life to get a puppy. "A rascally guy with a waggly tail." That's the ONLY thin she wants for her birthday. So of course, her parents get her a tortoise. Yes, a tortoise. "WHO WANTS A TORTOISE?!" Turns out that Daddy is allergic to dogs. She tries to play with him like a dog, but end ups giving the tortoise a makeover. Grammy and Grandpa bring her a tortoise book and she learns a little bit more about her pet. Then the tortoise gets lost and there is a wel ...more
Olivia S
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The main character asks for a dog for her birthday, but the box with holes in the top contains...a tortoise? It turns out that tortoises cannot do a lot of the things that dogs do, but they can do some things that are kind of great. A cute story with funny details. The illustrations are just okay, but I feel like the author really has a sense of how to imbue that crucial sweetness of details and humour into his writing, which comes through every few pages. Not amazing, but pretty good. I feel li ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My sons and I read this book critically since we are tortoise owners, but found nothing that did not ring true. Clearly Keane knows and loves his own pet tortoise, Shelly, and this tale of a little girl who badly wants a puppy but gets a different, rather alien kind of pet instead, is adorable. She is slowly converted to the unique and unusual traits of her tortoise, and soon can't imagine life without him. Fabulous and funny art captures that almost inexpressive, wrinkly little tortoise face. ...more
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Okay, but seriously, parents - do what mine did and have an actual conversation about why puppies/dogs are impractical for the family, don't just get your kid something they never wanted but still expect them to take care of.
(Also, don't paint a tortoise's shell or nails. Bad!)

Anyhow, ranting aside, I liked this book. I like that our young narrator made the best of things, and even got quite attached to her pet. I like the focus on finding silver linings, dealing with disappointment without gett
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The illustrations in the book really bring the story to life and made my kids and I laugh a lot. Even the inside of the book cover has clever illustrations contrasting the girl's attitude about having a tortoise for a pet in the beginning and end of the story. I think it is a great book to talk about how a person's ideas and opinions can change with experience and knowledge. We even talked a little about stereotypes. This library book was requested many times and it isn't a book I mind reading o ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Learning to love what you have and love things for what they are . A little girl wants a puppy for her birthday and gets a tortoise instead. She learned that tortoises can be amazing just like dogs, just in a different way.
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A little girl desperately wants a puppy for a pet, but finds herself the new owner of a tortoise. It takes a while for her to see the tortoise's charms, but they become the best of friends.

Watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. Great story, fun read aloud for PreK-2.
Beth Butler
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was enjoyable mostly because the main character mirrors my daughter in both behavior and fashion sense. Lots of stomping and scowling. Very reluctant to accept a pet she did not want. It takes a long time to finally learn to love the tortoise.
Micha O'Connor
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Finally! A book I enjoyed! On this year’s short list for the Kentucky Bluegrass Awards preschool list, this title runs the gamut of emotions involved in taking care of a pet, especially one you never thought you wanted. Highly recommended for purchase
Lauren Elizabeth
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a turtle owner (not a tortoise, I know, but close), I felt really bad for the poor tortoise that wasn't wanted by the little girl. But I think the book tells a nice story about how something may not be exactly what you wanted or hoped for, but is exactly what you end up needing. Adorable :) ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, childrens-books
The expressions and body language of this little girl are priceless. Also, I support any book that has the protagonist employ both duct tape and Sparkly Raspberry nail polish.
As is the case with many youngsters, the narrator desperately wants a puppy and is sure that her wishes will come true on her birthday. To her disappointment, her parents give her a tortoise. Her tortoise cannot do any of the things that a dog could do. Still, over time, she starts to see that there are plenty of interesting aspects to her new pet. Everything changes when the tortoise disappears, and the narrator desperately searches for him. When he finally returns, having had quite an adventur ...more
Alexis Zappitelli
This cute children's story is about a young girl who wished for a puppy as her birthday present, which to her disappointment does not come true. Instead, she receives a pet tortoise because her dad is allergic to dogs. Filled with humor, This requires a list of don'ts for the girl to know about what tortoises do not do, such as don't like your face, don't roll over, don't fetch, and don't beg for bologna. Soon on the tortoise becomes missing which requires flyers to be put up all around town aft ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
Don't it always see to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone ...
A little girl desperately wants a puppy, like her friends have, but her father is allergic to dogs. Not consulting her (I noticed) her parents surprise her with a tortoise. She's not happy. She learns all the ways that a tortoise is unsatisfactory compared to a dog, but the chance to hold a tortoise does very well at the lemonade stand. Just when she's beginning to enjoy "Tortoise" - he disappears and she realizes th
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this since it was on the State Award list and it was very interesting to see how this little girl wanted a puppy for her birthday and even some of her friends bring her puppy items as gifts. She obviously is not happy to receive a tortoise instead...she forgets that her dad is allergic to puppy fur.

I like that the author makes comparisons to both animals which is great when telling a story to EL school age children. Favorite part of the story is when she paints the tortoise's toe nails an
Nov 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
The girl reminded me as a kid. I wanted a dog, got a fish. Yay. I liked the girl was Asian but didn't like her attitude. I also didn't care for the improper treatment of the animal. The kid is left to her own devices with the tortoise and makes me glad they didn't get her a dog. I didnt come away thinking a tortoise is a cool pet to have.
A unicorn named Sparkle seemed a have a more solid plot and alot more fun.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The young girl wants a dog for her birthday and is surprised to get a tortoise instead. She struggles to figure out how a tortoise can be a good pet. She learns to love her tortoise and they have plenty of adventures together.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This read aloud is a great example for a character changing over time. Also, it lends itself easily to drawing conclusions and inferences as the illustrations enhance the story by adding more than the text. We had great discussions with this book in my classes.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Major disappointment! Instead of a much anticipated puppy, she gets a tortoise for her birthday instead. A tortoise is nothing like a dog - won’t fetch, won’t lick your face, and walks take a very long time. Tortoises are very different to dogs, but she finds you can love them just the same.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun read aloud about getting used to a tortoise for PreK-2.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This story is so cute! I used it for an elementary story time, and it went over like gangbusters.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ages 4 and up. A young girl has her heart set on a puppy for her birthday and is horrified when she is instead given a tortoise. A cute story about learning to love what you have featuring an Asian protagonist in an interracial family.
Ms Threlkeld
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Good book for talking to kids about character development and how your perspective can change.
Katie Birkner
Love the painted toe nails
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After spending so much time reading books to my three kids, I decided I'd try my hand at children's books. It's been a blast. I've visited schools all over the country. I've talked to thousands of kids about writing, illustrating, and using your imagination. And I've received tons of incredible letters and emails from parents, kids and teachers from just about everywhere.

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