Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
This celebrated, splendidly matched author-illustrator team here present a 64-page love story that is equally sweet and silly. For years, Mr. Hoppy has leaned over his balcony rail to gaze longingly at Mrs. Silver, who lives one floor below him. But all of her attention and affection is showered upon her pet tortoise, Alfie. Although the creature seems content, his devoted owner is concerned because he has gained a mere three ounces in the 11 years she has owned him. When the distressed Mrs. Silver tells her neighbor that she will be his ``slave for life'' if he can find a way to make Alfie grow, the determined Mr. Hoppy devises an elaborate scheme to make her think the tortoise is growing. (Since tortoises, according to Mr. Hoppy, are backward creatures that ``can only understand words that are written backwards,'' his exhortation to the pet begins ``Esio Trot''--which is ``tortoise'' reversed.) It is a happy Hoppy who gets all the credit--and Mrs. Silver's hand. Adults and older children will appreciate Dahl's superior storytelling skills, and will chuckle at Blake's animated, cartoony drawings. But the book's length and subtle humor make it less suitable for beginning readers. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 3-6-- What is this? A love story by Dahl? By the master of the malign, the nabob of the nasty, the king of the coarse, the baron of the body function? Can it truly be he? Well, in a word . . . yes--it can. And to those who still disbelieve, it's a sweetly insouciant love story at that. For years, old Mr. Hoppy has loved his neighbor, Mrs. Silver, a widow who, alas, only has eyes for her pet tortoise, Alfie. The details of how her wish that Alfie would grow a little faster inspires Mr. Hoppy to win the widow's heart will not be divulged here (but it has something to do with the fact that ``Esio Trot'' is ``tortoise'' spelled backward). There's not much room for character development in this slender story, but Blake's jauntily scribbled illustrations are--as always--the perfect comic complement and manage to give even Alfie a personality. --Michael Cart, Beverly Hills Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 3-5. Dahl, who has never tried to hide his mean side (he's made a career of it, actually), here shows a more benign face to his young readers--well, almost. Dahl introduces Mr. Hoppy, a shy man smitten with his downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Silver, who seems oblivious to his yearnings. Her main concern is her tortoise, Alfie, who, she fears, is not growing as fast as he should. Years pass. Finally, Mr. Hoppy comes up with a plan to win his love's affection and get rid of his reptile rival. A secret incantation (merely words written backward) will make Alfie grow, Mr. Hoppy assures his neighbor lady. And the tortoise does get bigger, but only because Mr. Hoppy has purchased loads of tortoises, which he keeps substituting to make it appear as if the original Alfie, now long gone, is growing. Does this plan work? You bet it does. No morality lesson here. Mr. Hoppy schemes, deceives, and gets his gal. This may offend an adult's highly defined sense of right and wrong, but kids will be more interested in the mound of tortoises and Mr. Hoppy's machinations. Dahl's writing is sly and certainly funny, but almost the best part of this short novel is Quentin Blake's roguish pen-and-ink drawings. Never has so much of the human comedy been apparent in so few scrawls. ~--Ilene Cooper
Horn Book Review
Mr. Hoppy plots to impress his secret love, who only has eyes for her pet tortoise; he gives her a special backward chant which he claims will help her pet grow bigger. His plan involves stealing her animal and replacing it with larger tortoises until Mrs. Silver is convinced of his cleverness and agrees to marry him. A slight, amusing story, full of trickery. From HORN BOOK 1990, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Enamored of Mrs. Silver, who tends her adored turtle, Alfie, on the balcony beneath the one attached to his own fiat, shy old Mr. Hoppy finds a unique way to woo her: he comes up with a ""magic"" spell (an ordinary message spelled backwards) that he claims will make Alfie grow as she desires, then makes it appear efficacious by a laborious scheme of replacing Alfie with other turtles in graduated sizes. It works; they marry; and the original Alfie is among those who live happily ever after--but in a new home. This rather tame offering is far less wicked, and less funny, than most of Dahl's books; even Blake's deftly penned illustrations are less amusing than his best work. An acceptable book for younger readers. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.