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Turtle Time Tales

By on March 31, 2016

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April hosts Earth Day, Poetry month, the time of turtles and birds; it can be the best of spring in South Florida. This between time – after winter’s wait and before summer’s heat – offers the opportunity for finding one’s own place in the world. As the seasons change, so do we. Fortunately or not, the spiral that brings us around the cycle of the year is never the same twice. And this collection of turtle tales supplies us with much to extend our imaginations. Stretch your “fanciful” muscles, dream. Follow a whim. Share these stories with your favorite small person. Don’t be afraid to invent or re-invent your own life!

by Meribeth C. Shank

Emma’s Turtle

by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Marsha Winborn

Emma'sA turtle has heard Emma, the girl whose pet he is, read about faraway lands. He decides to go exploring, digging a hole under the wire of his pen. He thinks he may be in the African jungle because the grass he crawls through is so long. Perhaps that’s an elephant leg he sees ahead. Or no, it’s really a strange jungle tree stump.

When a frog leaps past, the turtle wonders if it’s a kangaroo from Australia. Later, he wonders if he’s in India when he first sees the striped tail of the next-door cat and thinks it might be a tiger. Turtle’s been away all day by now and begins to worry about how to get back to the United States. Then Emma finds him and carries him back. And there are “strawberry slices scattered” for his supper.

Although he has never left the yard, young children will “get it” that he has had a splendid adventure.

       Watercolor illustrations are imaginative and match the sometimes-comic voice of the turtle with amused, fearful, funny, relieved, curious, expressive faces of all the creatures and Emma. Boyds Mills Press, $6.95 (paperback) $15.95 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 1 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, North Shore, Opa Locka, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Ocean Commotion: Sea Turtles

by Janeen Mason

commotion2        Beautifully illustrated, this biography about a loggerhead turtle whose hatching and later travels across the world’s oceans is a fascinating saga. She navigates the dangers of sea birds, crabs, sharks and nets to return to the beach of her birth to lay eggs.

        The swirling movement of blue, green and purple ocean currents echoes the movement of the sea’s creatures, as the female turtle crawls, drifts, paddles, dives and swims on her long journey. The important role of sargassum (a floating ocean weed) to supply both food and protection is highlighted.

        This well researched picture book reflects the author’s passion for the environment, especially marine life. Revealing the lush diversity of sea life on display in the immensity of the world’s oceans, the reader’s immersion in the life of the sea is enhanced by the vitality of the illustrations.

        At the back is a Note from the Author, including current websites. Also, words from the Glossary at the end are printed in bold type in the text. Pelican Publishing Company, $15.99 Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Turtle’s Race with Beaver: A Traditional Seneca Story

by Joseph Bruchac & James Bruchac, illustrated by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey

race        Turtle lives in a beautiful pond with everything a turtle could need; plenty of food and rocks for sunning. But one winter a beaver builds a dam, making the water deeper and deeper.

        Turtle wakes from hibernation and swims up from the mud. She discovers that Beaver doesn’t want to share the pond, even though there’s plenty of room. Instead, Beaver challenges her to race. “Whoever wins can stay, whoever loses must go find a new home.”

        Although Turtle doesn’t really want to race, she agrees. Beaver tells all the local animals about the race and a crowd gathers. They chant: TURTLE! BEAVER! TURTLE! BEAVER! Beaver is confident. Turtle thinks Beaver, with his flat tail, is likely a faster swimmer. But she has an idea.

       She bites into Beaver’s tale just as he leaps into the pond. It looks like Beaver will win. Turtle bites harder. The animals are cheering from the shore. Turtle bites even harder. Beaver yells and flips his big tail out of the water. Turtle lets go, flying over Beaver’s head, landing on the shore, and crawling across the finish line to win.

        Well-loved illustrators Dewey and Aruego use pen and ink, gouache, and pastels for the action that draws laughter from readers and listeners alike. The movement of the water, and the participation of the woodland animals with their intent expressions, matches the vivid language of the text.

        Turtle is delighted. But she also notices Beaver’s sadness. Despite her offer to share the pond, Beaver leaves in embarrassment.

        The ending, however, is very satisfying for young children. Turtle is once more content in her pond. And, Beaver finds a new pond – this time asking another turtle to share. The two live happily sharing the pond together.  Penguin, $5.99 (paperback) Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 . (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, Opa Locka, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

MORE TURTLE BOOKS!

Turtle, Turtle Watch Out! by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Annie Patterson
Charlesbridge Publishing, $7.95 (paperback) Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Turtle Tide: The Ways of Sea Turtles by Stephen R. Swinburne, illustrated by Bruce Hiscock
Boyds Mills Press, $11.95 (paperback) Interest Level: Grades 2-5 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

The Tortoise and the Hare by Alison Ritchie, illustrated by Nahta Noj
Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 1 (This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Turtle Tale by Frank Asch
Dial Press, Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; North Dade Regional.)


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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