Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter
by Mary Alice Monroe
Age Range: 5 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing (March 27, 2007)
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter by New York Times bestselling novelist, Mary Alice Monroe, and author of The Beach House and Swimming Lessons. Would it be a lot of text and personal thoughts? Would it be a drab and dry re-hash of the nesting habits of the loggerhead sea turtle? Would MY children find it interesting? And for that matter, would *I* find it interesting?
I am happy to report that the book was delightful. The format is a scrapbook type journal with lots of photographs, and the text is truly a heartwarming tribute from mother to daughter. It is perfect for children, parents, and teachers. Ms. Monroe's book does explain the nesting cycle of the loggerhead sea turtles, but she also includes many photographs and information about natural life along the southeastern coast as well. Honestly, the pictures alone tell a story that is entertaining and fascinating!
In the Monroe's novel Swimming Lessons (sequel to The Beach House), a young mother (Toy) writes a journal for her daughter (Little Lovie)--and Turtle Summer is actually the journal that Mary Alice Monroe created for the book! However, this is a stand-alone picture book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages--whether they read Swimming Lessons or not. I haven't read Swimming Lessons, but I really did find Monroe's ending thoughts to be very sweet, and her observations of time passing and her daughter growing up tugged at my heartstrings.
I have always been very interested in loggerhead sea turtles and how the females return to the beach where they hatched--usually 3o years later--to lay their own eggs. As with many things in nature and creation, scientists don't really know exactly why this happens. But apparently, it's important for the hatchlings to crawl across the beach to the sea for imprinting. That is why turtle volunteers don't pick up the babies or carry them to the water. However, if a mother turtle does lay her eggs below the high tide line, volunteers will carefully dig the eggs up and move them to a hand-dug nest in a more protected location.
Another very important fact I learned is that lights can be a problem for hatchlings as they instinctively try to make their way to the sea. In nature, the brightest light is the moon reflecting on the ocean--and that light guides the babies to the water. However, bright lights from houses, cars, and flashlights can confuse the hatchlings and cause them to go in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, this is usually fatal. Therefore, during the time when sea turtles hatch, measures are taken to reduce or eliminate the amount of artificial light coming from these sources.
Overall, I found Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter to be a very informative book. But the story of the sweet bond between a mother and daughter as they work together to help loggerhead sea turtles in their life's journey is very touching as well. Additionally, I really liked all the added photographs and information about other sea creatures, birds, shells, and plants in the area. The southeastern coast is a favorite place of mine, so I appreciated the extras.
As always, Sylvan Dell includes additional pages called 'For Creative Minds' at the end of the book with activities, fun facts, and observations.
About the Author:
Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times best-selling author of ten adult novels.Turtle Summer is her first children's book She draws themes for her books from nature and the parallels with human nature. And, she hopes that by bringing to life the beauty and mystery of the fabulously varied Lowcountry ecosystem and various endangered species, readers will perhaps be inspired to support efforts to protect them. Mary Alice is actively involved with several environmental groups including the South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey, The Island Turtle Team, and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium (home of the Sea Turtle Hospital). Her work with these groups provided the inspiration for her novels and children's book.
Barbara J. Bergwerf, volunteer at South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital and the Island Turtle Team on the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Islands, collaborated with Ms. Monroe to produce this excellent book.