Old Turtle And The Broken Truth

by Douglas Wood, Illustrated By Jon J Muth

Scholastic Press
September 2003

Ages 5 – 8 . Grades Kindergarten – 3

Library of Congress: 2002151460

Lexile measure: 620L

DRA: 24

Guided Reading: M



Seekers of all ages have been inspired by the stirring message of Old Turtle, the beloved, award-winning wisdom tale of peace. Now Old Turtle returns in a timeless story about love, acceptance, and the nature of truth.

Long ago, as truth descended onto earth, it split in two: one piece landing among the people and the other blazing through the sky. When the people discover the piece of truth, it gives them strength and happiness. But over time, it turns them arrogant and greedy. They do not share their truth with others, wars rage on, and the earth begins to suffer. Then a Little Girl eager for change journeys to find Old Turtle, seeking the precious piece of wisdom that will mend the people's broken truth, making it -- and them -- whole once again.

Douglas Wood's stirring and eloquent fable, soulfully illustrated in luminous watercolor by Jon J Muth, offers readers of all ages inspiration, hope, and a healing vision of peace.
Douglas Wood

Douglas Wood touched the hearts of readers everywhere with his first book, Old Turtle, the much-loved inspirational classic. He is the author of more than thirty books, including several New York Times bestsellers. An accomplished songwriter, musician, and wilderness guide, Douglas makes his home in a cabin in the woods in Minnesota. Visit him online at
Jon J Muth

Jon J Muth, renowned in the world of graphic novels, won an Eisner Award for his paintings in the graphic novel, The Mystery Play by Grant Morrison. He’s partnered with Neil Gaiman on The Sandman: The Wake, Walter and Louise Simonson on Havoc & Wolverine: Meltdown, and J. M. DeMatteis on Moonshadow and Silver Surfer. His enchanting picture books include his Caldecott Honor Book Zen Shorts and four companion books featuring Stillwater the Panda. His book The Three Questions, based on a short story by Tolstoy, was called "quietly life-changing" by the New York Times Book Review. And the Horn Book called Jon's Stone Soup "delicious and satisfying." His exquisitely beautiful books have been translated into more than 15 languages and are cherished by readers of all ages. Jon lives in New York State with his wife and their four children.


  • School Library Journal
    (December 1, 2003; 0-439-32109School Library Journal
    (December 1, 2003; 0-439-32109-3)

    Gr 4 Up-A truth falls from the sky and breaks in half. "One of the pieces blazed off through the night sky,/and the other fell to earth in the beautiful land." Several animals discard the broken piece because they feel that "there is something missing." When a human finds it, he is delighted, for it says, "You are loved." He reveals this truth to others "whose faces look like his." They begin to ignore the earth's beauty, to fear those who do not "share their truth," and to fight continually with those "others" who wish to possess it. Finally, a girl who embarks on a difficult journey to seek the advice of Old Turtle helps the people see that there is not just one truth, but "truths all around us, and within us" and that the second half of the broken truth is "And so are they." Muth's watercolor-and-ink illustrations powerfully reflect the moods evoked by the lyrical text. The humans are depicted as black, Giacometti-like silhouettes surrounded by darkness above and below. These same people form a rainbow-hued chain as they begin to see themselves in one another. The beautiful text and illustrations printed on wonderfully thick paper make a lovely package, and while the message, similar to Mem Fox's Feathers and Fools (Harcourt, 1996), is a difficult one for young children to grasp, it is sure to spark discussion among older students.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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    (November 15, 2003; 0-439-32109-3)

    K-Gr. 2. Old Turtle was a phenomenon, and many found its message inspirational. This sequel features the same gorgeous, shimmering watercolors as the earlier book, and, unfortunately, the same pretentious pieties. In a land where every stone was a teacher . . and every tree a ladder to the stars, a truth falls, and breaks into parts. Various creatures find the broken truth, and one, a man, takes its message, You Are Loved, to heart. So do other people, who fear and fight those who are not like themselves and do not share their truth. A little girl comes to Old Turtle to ask how to stop the suffering in the world, and he tells her how to make the truth whole. Next to the broken half, You Are Loved, the child places the rest of the shining truth, which reads And So Are They. Turtle has many fans, so expect an audience for this easy lesson in solving the world's problems. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2003 Booklist

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    Publishers Weekly
    (October 27, 2003; 0-439-32109-3)

    In this handsome but overwrought sequel to Wood's Old Turtle (illus. by Cheng-Khee Chee), "a truth" falls from the sky and breaks in two. One half vanishes; the other (bearing the words "You Are Loved") is rejected by the animal kingdom because a part of it is missing." A human snaps it up and shares it with those "who spoke as he spoke and dressed as he dressed and whose faces looked like his." Eventually, the humans' faulty "Truth" inspires "anger toward those who were not like themselves," and war breaks out. Finally, a girl asks Old Turtle for help and returns to her people both with wisdom ("Every person, every being, is important, and... the world was made for each of us") and a special stone-the missing half of the broken truth. Repaired, the whole truth forms a golden heart, which reads, "You Are Loved and So Are They." Wood's fulsome prose ("She had... crossed the Mountains of Imagining and the River of Wondering Why, had found her way through the Forest of Finding Out") and heavy-handed message stand out in sharp contrast to the simplicity and subtle lyricism of Muth's (The Three Questions) semi-abstract watercolors. From his exquisite animal portraits to the saturated colors, striking



Jacketed Hardcover / Smyth

ISBN: 9780439321099

64pp. | 9 x 10