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How Old is Mr. Tortoise? by Dev Petty

I have a confession to make. I love read alouds. I love to read aloud to children and their teachers. I love children and their teachers to read aloud to me. I believe in the power of reading aloud.

So many skills to work on with students with read aloud, playing with language, prediction, admiring author’s craft moves. This book, How Old is Mr. Tortoise? has so much to offer in a read aloud including for me, math in a literary sense.

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Mr. Tortoise pushed out a rather large birthday cake and says to his friends, “Today is my birthday. Let’s have cake.” His friends thoughtfully inquire the above, “How old are you today, Mr. Tortoise?” Surprisingly to my audience, Mr. Tortoise replies, I don’t really know. Here’s our first opportunity to think together. How old do you think Mr. Tortoise is? More importantly, what makes you think that?

On and on, the story goes with each animal guessing Mr. Tortoise’s age. The Cockatoo has an idea. He uses a clue that he has, but can they guess from that? Then the Tortoise himself gives a clue with some of his friends adding on more information. Wait! When we collaborate, we have more information.

Here we linger. I’ll give you a moment to figure it out. A wonderful opportunity for mystery solving, math solving, and conversation about illustrations, text features, and how might this end…

A beautifully fun book full of thinking and moments for conversation, a perfect combination for a read aloud before math class… or after.

As the story moves toward its close, the friends do a little math together with humor and space for considerations thrown in. How do they wrap up the story? With a wish from Mr. Tortoise. What do you think he wished for?

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