We the Sea Turtles: A Collection of Island Stories

Pajama Pr. Sept. 2023. 208p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772782851.
Gr 3-5–A compilation of tales with four threads running through them: islands, sea turtles, environmentalism, and heart. The stories vary in setting from Amelia Island, FL, to Singapore, and the middle grade protagonists vary in skin tones, nationalities, and cultures. Each story touches on an aspect of environmentalism and features a sea turtle in some form. Tone ranges from heartwarming stories (“Fast Fashion” centers a boy who volunteers to lessen his family’s carbon footprint while on vacation), to heartrending (in “Kura Kura,” a girl loses her father and home to a tsunami). Overall, this is a strong collection of stories if a little didactic, and some are weaker than others. “Only for Ariel,” about a girl who visits Copenhagen with her environmental scientist aunt and learns that Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” is vastly different from the Disney version, as well as the importance of taking care of the environment, feels heavy-handed and reads younger than the rest of the stories. But standouts such as “Home of the Little Penguins,” about a boy who is separated from his family when a bushfire sweeps through his town, and “Fox Bones,” about a girl who helps a pair of family friends through their grief, make this collection a great choice for discussions not only about the environment and climate change, but also about character-building subjects like the importance of honesty and being a good friend. Back matter includes facts about sea turtles and an author interview.
VERDICT Great for classroom discussion; hand this collection to a budding environmentalist looking for realistic stories with heart.

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