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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Have you ever wondered how turtles got their hard shells? If you follow Pagong’s story, you’ll find out both how and why. Pagong lived with his parents in an old tree by a pond. Food was getting scarce, so Pagong suggested they move beyond the hill where he heard there was plenty of food. Pagong’s parents were old and slow; they suggested Pagong venture out on his own to a place known as the Valley of Plenty. Pagong found plenty of food and tried to take some back to his parents, but a storm hit and Pagong slipped and lost all the food he was carrying. On his second trip to the Valley of Plenty, Pagong had to hide under a rock during a storm. What happened next made Pagong into a completely different creature. But it didn’t rob Pagong of his courage and determination.
Mylene Leumin’s picture book story, Pagong: How the Turtle Got Its Shell (Tale of Potos), is a charming fairy tale. Told in the age-old style of storytelling, this little gem follows one small turtle’s adventure into a strange new world and his compassion for the parents he left behind that had him return to share his findings. The adventure is full of excitement and danger and an unexpected happening that would make Pagong the kind of turtle we all know with his own special hard shell. The colorful illustrations certainly help carry the story along. And the plotline is well developed, giving attention to detail, particularly Pagong’s courage, determination, and caring nature: positive traits to pass on to young people. As with all good fairy tales, this one is packed full of excellent lessons for young readers.