cover image Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell

Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell

Sy Montgomery, illus. by Matt Patterson. Mariner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-45818-0

In this moving outing, National Book Award finalist Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) reports on the efforts of the Turtle Rescue League, a Southbridge, Mass., wildlife group that provides a permanent home for disabled turtles as well as rehabilitative care for those “recovering from illness or injury” or “who hatched out late or too small.” Montgomery offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the group’s daily operations, accompanying staff to provide water to nests at risk of drying out during a heat wave and return beached sea turtles to the ocean after a storm. Along the way, she profiles staffers, including “flashy extrovert” Alexxia Bell and “soft-spoken introvert” Natasha Nowick, who created the organization after bonding over their love of turtles, but the reptiles are the real stars, including Pizza Man, the red-footed tortoise rescued from a drug dealer’s basement who roams the League’s office, and Fire Chief, a massive snapping turtle nursed back to health after getting hit by a car. Montgomery captures the joy in the team’s successes and the sorrow in their losses (a particularly grim scene depicts a mass burial for turtles who died of their various injuries), and Patterson’s sketches of spotted and painted turtles in their natural habitats delight. It’s an enjoyable if at times somber account of the everyday travails of dedicated conservationists. Illus. (Sept.)