Life in the Slow Lane: A
Desert Tortoise Tale
This picture book about desert tortoises, set in the Southwest, exposes
children to a range of facts, about both tortoises and their desert
home. Grandfather tortoise teaches his granddaughter about their native
surroundings, ancestors, history and the importance of respecting and
preserving our natural habitats.
Written by Conrad Storad, not only does this story expose children
to the above themes, it is also a great introduction to the use of literary
devices like rhyme and repetition. The rhyme scheme is present from
beginning to end helping to re-enforce for children the information
they are learning. The chorus: "Oh its life in the slow lane. The
slow life for me. The tortoise's way is the best way to be" is
repeated to create continuity and to encourage participation and involvement
in the reading process.
Nathaniel P. Jensen's illustrations aid in moving the story forward
and re-enforcing grandfather tortoise's lessons through visual cues.
The characters and landscape are rendered in a style reminiscent of
cartoons. Still, the Southwestern setting will be easily recognizable
to children of all ages. Although the desert is typically viewed as
a muted colorless landscape, Jensen does a great job of demonstrating
the true vibrancy and diversity of the desert through the use of bright,
Tortoises and Turtles: the similarities and differences
In conjunction with Life in the Slow Lane teachers/parents
could also read a title such as Jabuti: A Trickster Tale from the
Amazon (for younger audiences) or The Tortoise
and the Jackrabbit (for older readers), a variant of which
is reviewed on this site.
Respect Your Environment:
The text demonstrates to young readers the need for sensitivity among
the human population toward nature and non-human inhabitants that
share our environment.
Traditions and Heritage:
With multi-generational characters, readers will see knowledge and
the importance of our ancestry being passed from one generation to
the next. Grandfather imparts his wisdom to his granddaughter and
at the same time helps her to understand her roots.
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