A turtle wins a new and unique contest in the picture book Something New in Cloverville?
Mayor Eddie, a hedgehog, wants to create a new event for Cloverville’s Summer Celebration, and he’s inspired by a tomato display in Sophie Skunk’s store. Together, they come up with the rules for the first-ever tomato-rolling contest, with a brand-new skateboard as the winner’s prize.
On the day of the event, Penny Porcupine, Willard Warthog, and Tubby Turtle bring their tomatoes and sticks, as instructed, but they have to climb a hill to reach the starting point. Willard decides to carry his tomato up by spiking it atop his tusk; Penny sticks hers onto one of her quills; Tubby, not having quills or tusks, pushes his tomato up the hill with his stick.
Once everyone reaches the top, Mayor Eddie explains that the animal whose tomato reaches the bottom of the hill with the fewest nicks, scrapes, and holes will be the winner. But Penny can’t get her tomato off her back, and Willard slips and smashes his tomato. Tubby proceeds carefully down the hill, and although he’s the last to finish, he wins the competition.
The book is roughly split into two parts, the first half focusing on Mayor Eddie and Sophie, the second half on Tubby and his friends. The story is cute, its animal characters sympathetic, and the full-color art engaging.
Unfortunately, the book’s professed message is muddled. The book’s back cover states that the author wants to show “that the ‘underdog’ can be a winner.” But the idea of Tubby as an underdog isn’t well-established, and his victory seems driven as much by luck, circumstance, and the actions of others as by his own decisions.
Despite this issue, the book showcases Tubby’s steadfast competitive spirit nicely, and children should enjoy the story, which offers a bit of mystery, a touch of excitement, and a happy ending.
Also available as an ebook.