Old Turtle and the Broken Truth

by Douglas Wood illustrated by Jon J Muth (Scholastic Press New York 2003)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other-peace with the environment

highly recommended still available in hard copy - maybe a copy in your local library


Douglas and Jon (also in The Three Questions) together illuminate the most important things in life. A child is again the hero in this tale, a child who had been searching and travelled far and …

“had crossed the Mountains of Imagining and the River of Wondering Why,

had found her way through the Forest of Finding Out.”

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •     challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  • peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     …..an element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Humans, believing they had discovered 'the truth', forgot to listen to the breezes and stones and decided to take up arms against each other. A little girl, realising the earth was suffering as a consequence to their actions asked the wise Old Turtle where the missing piece of 'the broken truth' could be found. She wanted peace. But the wise Old Turtle whispered that the humans were not ready to know the secret of 'the broken truth'. When she returned to her people the little girl was not recognised by them or the story of her journey believed. They could not understand her intentions.

Finally the humans were ready, and it was time for the broken pieces of 'the truth' to be fitted together. The people began to appreciate the message that could only be truly understood when the broken pieces were again joined together. This wonderful story is also one for all ages to enjoy and share with each other. A child’s determination, courage and innate belief in 'the truth' she had learned from the wise Old Turtle ensured a happy win-win ending would occur for everyone.

Critical questions to explore with children 

  • What did crow find?
  • What did all the animals discover?
  • What did the humans do with the broken truth?
  • Who came to visit the Old Turtle?
  • What wisdom did Old Turtle share with her?
  • What happened when the little girl arrived home?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children 

  • What do you believe was the truth the story referred to?
  • What important message would you share with the children of the world?
  • Do you believe humans can solve their problems peacefully?
  • Why do you think it was a child who came to visit the Old Turtle in the story?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

© Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

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