illustrated by Quentin Blake
May be appropriate for ages 7 ‒ 11(and up)
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Mr. Hoppy is in love with his neighbor, Mrs. Silver, but she is in love with her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy comes up with an idea to get Mrs. Silver's attention. If his plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. After all, everyone knows the way to a woman's heart is through her tortoise.
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.
Grade 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.