TRUMAN by Jean Reidy and illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying summer. Today I’m sharing Jean Reidy’s latest TRUMAN, illustrated by one of my favorites, Lucy Ruth Cummins.

I had a number of comments from past observations on my posts that made me realize how often my book choices had been by author/illustrators. So I was pleased to find this gem of a book by this great creative duo in Jean and Lucy. In TRUMAN, you will find a book that seems to be able to slow us down as we read it and enjoy little details of the story. Something fantastically appropriate for a book about a turtle.

Jean Reidy has written a book here that doesn’t breeze over anything. In fact, there are so many wonderful little details that are highlighted as we move through the book – and it’s deliberate too.

You see it right away with the way she could have ended the paragraph with just letting us know what was in the busy street. But Jean gives us that last little detail about the number 11 bus (for later).

Now we get some details about Truman. About his character and “his Sarah”. One thing I love as we get these details, is it feels like it slows the pace down. It’s in their delivery. There’s nothing frantic or desperate going on, and the fun little lists of important information just keep coming.

More details. Without telling us specifically, we get the impression that these details, or bits of them, are new. The “big banana” and a new brand new sweater. The fact that Truman wasn’t IN the backpack, though we specifically get to see how he could have fit – special slow down with the 32 tortoises to count in the image is a wonderful touch.

Without us knowing it, Jean is building up to moment here where these details are going to matter, and she’s helping us zero in on them. (TWO more green beans than usual).

And “Be brave” – especially based on what we read about Truman’s character (and Sarah’s too).

Now Jean uses the details to help convey the situation. But because it was all given to us so deliberately, it is easier to start to recall them, as well as start to connect the dots with what is going on.

Finally we’re back at the Number 11 Bus, and Sarah is getting on board. I loved the slow and deliberate march of information and little details to this moment. I won’t spoil it, but I encourage you to read through the rest of this charming book and see where the “be brave” detail takes Truman!

My takeaway for this book is Jean Reidy’s ability to highlight the important details, and to slow down the story so we notice them. I think often when I write, the details or descriptions aren’t all a delibertate part of the story, and maybe this focus will help tighten that up a bit.

Special Bonus: Cute Truman climbing 1,2,3 rocks…

Take care!

Mike Boldt

Mike Boldt is an author and illustrator from Alberta, Canada. With more than 18 books in the wild, he's authored titles such as A TIGER TAIL and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT FLUFFY (Simon and Schuster). He's also the illustrator of Dev Petty's I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG & I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG & THERE'S NOTHING TO DO (Doubleday). You can learn more about Mike at


  1. What an extraordinary book! And sweet, too! Thank you for sharing! Best of success to Jean and Lucy!

  2. Truman looks exceptional! I can’t wait to read the entire book. I’m sure I’ll read it many more times than once :-)!

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful book and breaking down the story arc! It’s all in the details and the delivery. Now I need to find out how it ends!

  4. I’m excited to hear Jean talk about this book in Austin next week!

  5. Thank you for sharing this book and Jean’s special strategy of using details to build.

  6. Deborah Buschman

    I so like the idea of how the details determined the pacing and we aren’t told right away what the problem is.

  7. I love to read slowly and absorb delicious details. As adults, we tend to read quickly and skim over details we believe to be unimportant. We miss sooo much that way. If we read a book for pleasure, we ought to take the time to truly enjoy the words and not merely get the point of the story.

  8. Karen Henry Clark

    I love this already–something about that number 11 bus, when first mentioned, really tugged at me.

  9. Wow! What fabulous word choice. I’m hooked!

  10. Thank you for sharing this. I love the way the art shows only the important details and captures a child’s posture. And the discussion of the text details gives us a great model of how to introduce important details.

  11. I just brought Truman home from the library! Can’t wait to review what you shared, Mike, and then discover the rest of the story.

  12. I read this book at the library yesterday. Thoroughly charming text and illustrations. And I so loved how Truman gave us insights into his Sarah, and how we see the world from his perspective.

  13. I LOVE this book! Adorable. And your observations are spot on. Now to read this book and apply the strategies! Thanks.

  14. What a fabulous first line! I am looking forward to adding this to me TBR pike!

  15. What a wonderful story! I love Truman and Sarah – what a special friendship.

  16. Wow! I love this book! Thank you for sharing how Jean’s details build the story.

  17. This really is such a charmer. (Funnily enough, I used to live near the Sarah and Truman (aka Hagrid) who inspired it back when I lived in Denver!)

  18. I am loving both the words and the art. Just lovely. I cannot wait to find this one.

  19. It’s a very sweet story 🙂

  20. I adore how each word is carefully considered. Pure mastery!

  21. I love this book and your analysis of it!

  22. Thanks for highlighting this super cute book, Mike! I also like that you mentioned something you learned for your own writing: “often when I write, the details or descriptions aren’t all a delibertate part of the story, and maybe this focus will help tighten that up a bit.” That’s such a great outcome of reading the work of others, and I would agree with you on this point for myself as well.

  23. I love this book! So many sweet, little details to delight us—the donut comparison, the green beans, the toys on the rug. Hoping to get a signed copy at the Princeton Book Festival. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *