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Simply Small Series - Totty
by Paola Opal
AGES: 0 to 3
SIZE: 4.25 x 7.75
PRICES: $7.75 US, CDN $8.95
HARDCOVER: 978-1-897476-06-2

- Best books for Kids & Teens 2010 Chosen Title, CCBC 

Review, Canadian Children's Book News, 2010

"A newly hatched sea turtle, a baby giraffe anxious for independence and a little elephant who wants more than anything to help his mother ... These are the endearing characters in Simply Read Books' board book series, Simply Small, by Paola Opal.

The repetitive text and simple storyline in these board books are perfect for babies. Each of the characters struggles with issues that young children can relate to. Saffy experiences the frustration that every child feels when he or she wants to do more than they can. Children like being mommy or daddy's helper and we see this characteristic in Ollie. In families where there is more than one child, siblings are always trying to keep up with each other, just as Totty tries to catch up with his siblings."


"Being a sea turtle takes patience and pluck, as young readers learn in this enchanting board book. A companion to Saffy, which featured a baby giraffe, this book introduces Totty, the smallest of all the sea turtle babies and the last one to hatch. His brothers and sisters are already far down the beach, crawling toward the sea. As they get smaller and smaller, Totty redoubles his efforts to catch up. But it seems impossible! Will Totty find a way? Award-winning artist Paola Opal’s charming artwork makes Totty an instant friend to little readers, and the simple, rhythmic text makes the book one they’ll return to again and again." - Just Ivyruggieri


For Baby Bookworms (Birth to 2)
A baby sea turtle hatches on a sandy beach, the last and smallest of his brothers and sisters. Watching them making their way down toward the water, he fears he won’t be able to catch up. But don’t let his size fool you; Totty is one clever little guy! The simple illustrations in this sweet book will charm little ones and keep them returning to its pages again and again. - Children's Book Corner


Resource Links

Both Saffy Looks for Rain and Totty are structured on the developmental behavior of a toddler, which makes them appealing and interesting to even the youngest of readers. Opal uses repetitive language as well as familiar, expected patterns that help young children feel comfortable with the content and excited about the unfamiliar and unexpected. 

Saffy Looks for Rain has a "question-answer mode," a language pattern very familiar to young children. This technique serves well to keep a toddler's attention span from wandering and assigns them the responsibility for the "answer." The story directly involves the child, which also enhances the confidence of the child to become an independent reader. Opal's question-answer approach also adds to the drama of turning the page. 

Both Saffy Looks for Rain and Totty are simple, delightful stories focusing on situations most young children face; Saffy's search for rain which results in the unexpected surprise of a new friend, and Totty's worry about being left behind. The boardbook publication makes it easy for small hands to hold and turn the pages, allowing the youngest of readers to gain experience in listening to stories and making predictions about what will happen next.

Opal's simple cartoon-like illustrations are appealing and appropriately dominate the page. The text is secondary which lets small children focus on what is more interesting to them during the reading. I think Opal's boardbook series will certainly become favourites in the toddler/ preschool world. 

Thematic links: Giraffes; Turtles; Friendship



"A charming tale that's just perfect for the youngest readers" - ABC Best Books for Children


CM Review

Totty tells the heartwarming tale of a baby sea turtle. Totty and his brothers and sisters have hatched from their eggs and have to make their way to the ocean. Totty is slower than his brothers and sisters and is struggling to keep up. Young children can relate to the fear of being left behind by older siblings and friends, as well as the familiar phrase, “Wait for me!” But even though Totty is not as fast as his brothers and sisters, he is a bright little turtle, and he notices how quickly a seashell slides down the sand pile towards the ocean. Realizing that he can slide by using the shell on his back, Totty ends up getting to the ocean before his siblings. Now it is his brothers and sisters who are telling Totty, “Wait for us!” to which Totty replies, “Of course” and “Follow me!” 

This board book tells a straightforward, yet relatable, story for young children. The illustrations, while simple, are colourful and are outlined in thick black lines which help grab the attention of infant to preschooler readers. Throughout the book, Opal uses vibrant onomatopoeic language, such as “swoosh,” “thump,” and “splash,” which makes reading the story aloud to children fun.
Totty is a good addition to any book collection for children from birth to preschool age.

- Reviewed by Kristen Ferguson.

Kristen teaches Language Arts at the Faculty of Education at Nipissing University and is a doctoral student in Education at York University. She is also a new mom, and her son Malcolm enjoyed this book very much!