Gilbert White was an 18th-century English naturalist whose artfully written journals included descriptions of a tortoise named Timothy. This book explains things from the tortoise’s point of view. You can imagine its pace. The action picks up when our shelled friend tries to make a break for it — ”The fuss the humans made when they found me. Escape of the Old Sussex Tortoise! Eight Days’ Pursuit!” — and then riffs on everything from hibernation to human folly. There’s a lot of weather. Verlyn Klinkenborg is operating at the edge of silliness, but Timothy‘s wide whimsical streak coexists with a charming meditation on the rhythms of nature.