Race for the Ruby Turtle

Bloomsbury. Oct. 2023. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547607020.
Gr 4-6–Eleven-year-old Jake Rizzi is stuck spending time in rural Oregon with his great-aunt Hettle, whom he barely knows, while his parents go on vacation. They say they are going to a workshop, but Jake is sure it’s just an opportunity to get a break from him and his ADHD. The “rainiest town in the state,” where Jake will be staying, is having their annual Nehalem Blackberry Moon Festival, based on a myth about a turtle with a ruby-colored shell. This year, it’s more than the usual locals searching for the turtle—news of the animal has spread and strangers from all over, including a dishonest animal poacher and twin zoology students from Sweden, have hopes of being the first one to spot it. Aunt Hettle keeps insisting that the story is local folklore, but as strangers are getting closer to the truth, Jake, his new friend Mia, and dog Singer are racing to protect this potential rare creature and the land where his aunt resides. Readers will empathize with Jake as they learn how his brain works and the coping strategies he uses to overcome his challenges. A second narrator’s sections, giving a voice to one unwelcome turtle hunter, are noted with a change in the appearance of the page background and font.
VERDICT Readers will keep enthusiastically turning pages to continue this heartfelt adventure about nature conservation.

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