Every Turtle Counts

Sara Hoagland Hunter, illus. by Susan Spellman. Peter E. Randall Publisher (www.PERpublisher.com), $16.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-931807-25-8
Hunter (The Lighthouse Santa) introduces a seven-year-old autistic girl named Mimi, who discovers a sea turtle on the beach in Cape Cod and refuses to leave it there. "Dead as a doornail," insists one of the locals, but a representative of the Massachusetts Audubon Society gives Mimi hope when he's called to pick up the turtle: it may just be "cold-shocked" after being trapped in the waters of the cape. Hunter gives an honest, unsentimental portrait of Mimi's developmental difficulties, and the emotional range of Spellman's (Oscar the Herring Gull) watercolors underscore the important connection Mimi makes with the rescued turtle, Ridley 3. After Ridley 3 is moved to an aquarium to rehabilitate, Mimi tries to help feed it with tongs. " ‘Eat, turtle,' she said, tickling the sides of its mouth.... It was the first time Mimi had ever put her own sentence together." In a moving epilogue set 30 years in the future, Mimi re-appears as an adult scientist, driving home the idea that the oft-repeated message of the title applies to more than just turtles. Ages 5–9.
Reviewed on: 05/26/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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