Jabuti the Tortoise by Gerald McDermott

Jabuti the Tortoise

Written by Gerald McDermott
Illustrated by


Jabuti the Tortoise by Gerald McDermott

With its shocking-pink jacket and swirls of brilliant designs, McDermott's retelling of this rain forest tale is visually arresting but narratively a bit colorless. The reputed trickster Jabuti gets his comeuppance when a jealous Vulture offers to fly the tortoise and his flute to the King of Heaven's festival of song, then wickedly drops his passenger down from the skies. The King of Heaven chastises the vulture, and the birds who put Jabuti's smooth shell back together again gain new feathers as their reward. Though Jabuti's shell is 'cracked and patched', his 'song is sweet'. Oddly, Jabuti doesn't possess a trickster's lively intelligence or cleverness, and the story's plot is resolved by the God of Heaven's intervention rather than by the protagonist's cunning. The story begins with the animals that Jabuti has tricked, but they all disappear immediately in favor of a pourquoi tale about how the tortoise got the cracks on his shell. McDermott's illustrations, on the other hand, vibrate with electric colors and patterns. Jabuti's huge eyes and geometric smile, and the interior, brightly colored birds are startling when silhouetted against the pink sky. This title is suitable for ages 4-8.


A fine addition to the body of work by a proven master. --Kirkus Reviews Readers will revel in this whimsical folktale . . . McDermott's words paint beautiful stories and wonderful pictures. --Library Talk Color springs from the pages . . . Simply written and well paced, this will make an imaginative read-aloud choice for classroom units on the rain forest. --Booklist A simple yet lyrical tale that is as satisfying to hear as it is to read. --School Library Journal

About the Author

GERALD MCDERMOTT (1941-2012) was an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator of books for children. A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York City and a lifelong artist, he began his career as an animated filmmaker before moving into the creation of children's books based on storytelling traditions from around the world. He was awarded the Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors; his extensive and influential body of work includes six popular picture books focusing on the trickster motif. Devoted to oral tradition and the transformative power of mythology, he was the first Fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and served as a consultant on mythology in education. www.geraldmcdermott.com

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Book Info


32 pages


Gerald McDermott
More books by Gerald McDermott


Houghton Mifflin

Publication date

1st September 2001



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