How Old Is Mr. Tortoise?

by Dev Petty (Author) Ruth Chan (Illustrator)

How Old Is Mr. Tortoise?
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

From the author of I Don't Want to Be a Frog comes a hilarious new picture book that asks readers to solve one very important mystery

It's Mr. Tortoise's birthday, and he can't wait to eat cake with his friends. But there's a hitch! Mr. Tortoise can't remember how old he is, so his friends don't know how many candles to put on the cake. And they won't stop (or slice) until they figure out the mystery. Could Mr. Tortoise be as many years old as there are sections on his shell? He's twice as big as the smaller tortoise . . . so is he twice as old? After the partygoers work through a variety of possibilities, they find their way to the answer with a simple bit of addition. With text from I Don't Want to Be a Frog author Dev Petty and hilarious graphic novel-style illustrations from Ruth Chan, How Old Is Mr. Tortoise? will have readers guessing the answer from beginning to end.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

All Mr. Tortoise wants for his birthday is to celebrate "a good life with good friends... and good cake"--the latter being a scrumptious, three-tier confectionery covered in pink icing. But these plans are derailed when his animal friends discover that Mr. Tortoise doesn't know his age. "Then how will we know how many candles to put on your cake?" one asks earnestly. While Mr. Tortoise patiently waits--tying on a polka-dotted napkin and suggesting that candle accuracy doesn't matter--the animals cogitate. They count the sections of his shell, they extrapolate based on their own experience (a smaller tortoise figures that Mr. Tortoise must be twice as old because he's twice as big), and they attempt to deduce a birth year from cultural references. Finally, a possible answer emerges; "HOORAY, CAKE!" says Mr. Tortoise. And hooray for Petty (Don't Eat Bees) and Chan (Thank You, Neighbor!), whose comic hearts beat as one in this impeccably paced story told in graphic novel panels. With deadpan dialogue and endearingly goofy character-focused art, they've created a funny and loving salute to friendship, critical thinking, longevity, and cake. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator's agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Dev Petty
DEV PETTY is the author of I Don't Want to Be a Frog, I Don't Want to Be Big, There's Nothing to Do!, and I Don't Want to Go to Sleep. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Dev previously worked as a visual-effects artist in film, contributing to such movies as the Matrix Trilogy. Dev was born and raised in Berkeley, California, and now lives right next door in Albany with her husband, two daughters, some dogs, and other critters. Visit her online at and on Twitter at @devpetty.

MIKE BOLDT is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Just Try One Bite by Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey. His numerous picture books include I Don't Want to Be a Frog, Don't Eat Bees, Bad Dog, and Find Fergus. When he's not drawing, he's building snow forts and Lego spaceships with his three kids at his home in rural Alberta, Canada, or sharing laughs and his ice cream with his wife. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBoldt and on Instagram at @thatmikeboldt, and learn more about Mike at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication date
June 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV017100 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Birthdays
JUV002240 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Turtles
JUV008050 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Animals
Library of Congress categories

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