Nia loves Alfie, her pet turtle. But he’s not very soft, he doesn’t do tricks, and he’s pretty quiet. Sometimes she forgets he’s even there! That is until the night before Nia’s seventh birthday, when Alfie disappears! Then, in an innovative switch in point of view, we hear Alfie’s side of the story. He didn’t leave Nia—he’s actually searching for the perfect birthday present for his dear friend. Can he find a gift and make it back in time for the big birthday party?
I love the imagination of Heder's earlier book, Fraidy-Zoo, so I was looking foward to this one. I found it a mixed bag: I liked her watercolor illustrations in Alfie much better - the illustrations in Fraidy-Zoo were too busy for such a small space, I felt like there were details I was missing due to size.
The story of Alfie is one kids will enjoy, as well. Many will be familiar with getting a new pet (or toy or whatever) and losing interest after a while. Hearing the same story told from Alfie's point of view can be a refreshing eye-opener, and could lead to some great story extensions (what does the class guinea pig think of our days together?)
I think kids will enjoy this book quite a bit, but the adult in me can't get over the fact that there are absolutely no repercussions from Nia completely forgetting about her pet. He just pops back up again A YEAR LATER, and all is well! As someone who often sees the end results of impulse pet buying/gifting, I just can't get past that enough to really enjoy it myself.
*NOTE: This title has been nominated for the Cybils Award, and I am a first round panelist. There are many nominations and six other judges. My opinions should not be construed as a sign of inclusion or exclusion on the final short list.