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The Town of Turtle

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In Turtle's shell there's room for only one. But in Turtle's heart, there is room for everyone! This tale of a lonely turtle who comes out of his shell to find friendship and community celebrates diversity and inclusion. 

When a solitary turtle decides to make some renovations to his shell, he doesn’t have a blueprint, only a dream for a better life. He starts by building
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  212 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for Beautiful Picture-Books Addressing Loneliness, Community Building & Immigration
Living alone in a dark and solitary part of the world, Turtle decided to brighten up his shell, painting it a vivid green. Because he needed to use up the paint, he built a deck as well. Soon he was building an entire town on his shell, until he no longer recognized his own shadow. Taking a well-deserved rest, he slumbered on as the residents of other parts of the world, somehow alerted by Turtle's dream, started moving into the town on his shell. When Turtle awakened, it was to find his world t ...more
Villain E
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I don't quite get this one. Turtle is alone. He decides his shell is a little boring so he starts adding to it. One thing leads to another until it becomes an entire town. It's such a cool town that other animals want to move in. Is the point "If you build it, they will come"? ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ch-picture-books
I wonder if I'd like this book with different illustrations. If the text was paired with an artist like David Roberts or Kate Hindley who might have taken the words in a very literal and absurd direction, I can see this being a charming and goofy story. But the pictures are so abstract on top of the already abstract text, that I found it hard to engage with the story. I'd like to read this with kids to see how they enjoy it. ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
I don't usually give books one star ratings, but this book was very confusing, both it the words and the illustrations. I read a lot of picture books, and I have not had this much trouble understanding a book before. There was no flow to the story, and the illustrations did not help at all. Very difficult to even finish the book. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Turtle does some serious remodeling in his shell in this delightful story that's full of a sense of wonder. ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story about a lonely turtle and how creativity and imagination can result in something wonderful, how one's dream can bring friends into your life. ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When turtle decides to liven up his environment, magical things happen.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Town of Turtle by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Caria Chien. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin, 2018. $18. 9780544749825


Turtle lives in a cold, lonely place. In order to brighten his life, he takes it upon himself to build, eventually, an entire town on his back. After all of that work he takes a nap – a long nap. And while he is napping all sorts of creatures move into his town.

While I was reading, I was reminded of Discworld by Terry Pratchett (look it up). Beyond that,
Smoot M.L.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found it to be a great story that mirrored real life. There are many who decide to create a town where they start small and as time goes the town grows. It teaches what hard work, dedication, insight, and the need for companioning-ship can change things. The vocabulary is inviting in that if you were to research the words topiarist, tightrope-riding unicyclist, inventor ballerina, mailman etc. it would lead you to greater understanding of the type of people that would be interested in living i ...more
Kat Harrison
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was swept away by the lyricism and the if-you-can-dream-it, you-can-do-it narrative of Michelle Cuevas' THE TOWN OF TURTLE. The story follows a turtle whose only friend is his shadow. To combat his loneliness, he starts to build a town on top of his shell. After picking the just-right color of green paint (one of my favorite plot points!), and building houses and neighboring buildings, the turtle dreams that people will move in...but will they? Cuevas did an honorable job with the text, taking ...more
Shaina Cade
Sooooo this is partly The Little Prince and partly Discworld and all very much AMAZING and sweet. What a dream! Turtle lives all alone on his planet and he gets to work building and building and building and once he's done, his mind dreams up some friends and OH MY GOODNESS. There are so many lovely lines in this picture book, including "The dream, feeling brave, ventured out into the world." I think you owe it to yourself to spend a few minutes in this brilliant little world. This turtle god -- ...more
Amy Layton
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
This book is so cute both in narrative and in illustrations!!  The concept is just incredible--a turtle building a village on his back--and the artwork is stunning in that late 2010s minimalist way!  The colors are vibrant, the characters are vibrant, and this book is altogether bright, fun, and hopeful!  I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the ARC and read it, and now I must patiently await for it to be published.  I absolutely can't wait to hold the final product in my hands.  

Review cross-li
Tara Carlisle
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
More like 3.5 stars. This book has a really sweet concept about a turtle coming out of his shell to build his dream of a world. I agree with others about the artwork being a little too abstract which doesn't help us understand this dreamlike story. I am considering reading this at our LEGO club today and challenge the kids to create their own world like turtle did. Maybe I'll change my mind about this book after I see the kids reactions with it. ...more
I enjoyed this imaginative story very much, and the illustrations are lovely, too. A turtle feels so very lonely inside his shell. It was dark in there, so he made some changes. First, he built a deck, and the idea grew and grew some more. You will be surprised and delighted to discover what happens to one who is lonely and decides to do something about it. Finding and welcoming friendship and community is a good thing, especially if you are a turtle!
Title: The Town of Turtle
Author: Michelle Cuevas
Published: 2018
Age Appropriateness: All Grades
Summary: This book talks about a little turtle who branches out to make friends and finds a loving community.
Review: This book was so inclusive, and I thought made a great point about loving everyone! I think this book was primarily made for younger grades, but the lesson that lies within is important for all to hear.
Jessica Brown
May 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Maybe I'm just too curmudgeon-y to understand this one. It's a super abstract book about a turtle building a world on his back with friends coming to live in it? On it? But as many others have described, both the text and the artwork are abstract, so I'm not following. I'd love to see how kiddos feel about it, though my guess is it'll go right over their heads, too. ...more
Juliana Lee
Turtle's only friend was his shadow. One day he decided to brighten up his home. He painted, added a patio and a fire pit. Soon he built a garden and eventually a whole town. But he was still lonely. Then one day friends arrived to live in his beautiful town. Now turtle had more friends than just his shadow. ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
April 2018 - it's a bit like if Turtle Island took a surreal turn. The illustrations can be really abstract - sometimes it's hard to distinguish Turtle's body, and what is he doing out of his shell? - but Ben was totally absorbed and chose it a few times. ...more
Aliza Werner
Love the concept of turtle building a home larger than himself. Narrative flow was interrupted in a dream sequence and it was strange seeing the character of turtle outside of his shell most of the book.
Katrina Clohessy
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Friendless turtle decides to do some renovations on his home (his shell) & eventually creates something huge & wonderful, so that other creatures move in. Cute, creative story, but probably too long for storytime.
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A fairly mediocre story about a turtle who lives alone and who keeps adding things onto his shell. Eventually his dreams become real and inhabit the world he's created. There's enough weird stuff to make me say "pass" and not use it in future units about turtles.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars -- Unusual, dreamlike, and sweet little story reminiscent of Jon Klassen.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was just a very out of this world tale that never connected for me.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful writing. I don't really understand the plot. Imaginative book with lovely illustrations. ...more
Stefanie Kellum
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
If you build it, they will come. ;)
I did not enjoy the book. It's probably just just wasn't my thing. ...more
Alyssa Gudenburr
May 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
A little too strange for me. Turtle is redecorating the inside of his shell.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
cool illustrations and a lovely idea, but it was a bit convoluted.
Rebecca Gomez
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is imaginative, but too long. The text is also a little bit dry, but independent readers may enjoy it.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great art. Love the turtle working outside of his shell. Great use of characters that don't need to be developed--they just ARE. Whimsical. ...more
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Michelle Cuevas was born in 1982 in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. She graduated from Williams College and holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia, where she received the Henry Hoyns Fellowship. 

Michelle is the author of The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow illustrated by Sydney Smith, national bestseller  The Uncorker of

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“He happened to be an especially deep sleeper. When Turtle slept, he slept the sleep of a broken pocket watch.” 0 likes
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