Friday, October 11, 2019

TRUMAN by Jean Reidy & Lucy Ruth Cummins – A book to build empathy

What a lovely story about patience and friendship! A book I definitely want to study more closely. I think I will purchase for my personal collection.

Summary from Amazon:

Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus!

Truman waits for her to return.
He waits.
And waits.
And waits.
And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do.

Even if it seems…impossible!

Truman was small,
the size of a donut—
a small donut—
and every bit as sweet.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

I loved this different take on a “going to school” story. The unique voice of this story drew me in. The carefully chosen details, rhythm of the language and repeated phrases kept me reading along. This book is full of emotion. I especially loved the “Be brave” moment. If you write stories that are considered “quiet” this is a great example to study. Lots of heart! 

My Thoughts as an Educator:

I loved the way the author turned around the traditional “going to school” story to look at a pet’s perspective. Being curious about what happens to a pet when a child is away at school is a great conversation starter!  I think young children will relate to the idea of separation and the ways that Truman tries to cope. It’s also a great book for helping to build empathy by sharing another character's perspective.  

Ages: 4-8

Grades: K – 3

Themes: friendship, loyalty, bravery


Discuss: How was Truman brave? Can you think of a time when you were brave?

Draw & Write:  What does your pet do while you are at school? If you don’t have a pet, draw a picture about what your favorite toy or your Mom does while you are at school.

STEM: Provide a small toy tortoise, a wall and building materials (e.g. invert a toy bin and use the bottom). How can a little tortoise get up to the top? Build a structure for the tortoise to climb.


  1. I'm absolutely drawn to the precious opening words of this book! I love the comparison of the tortoise to a small donut, and I especially love that Truman is every bit as sweet. I have a pet tortoise and often compare him to a hamburger. The donut is 10x's better! I'll be adding this book to my list without delay. Thanks for a great review!

  2. Oh, it wasn't what i thought it would be, bute even better. I saw someone walking their tortoise in Central Park!

  3. I really like that this book is told from the pet's perspective. Couldn't help but notice the similarity -- the turtle carries a shell (pack on his back) as does the girl when she traps on her backpack. Will have to read this lovely quiet book.

  4. Ooh, I can't wait to find this book! Both for the story and as a mentor. Thank you Andrea for highlighting it!


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