Turtle Island
By Kevin Sherry
Published by Penguin Young Readers Group
Age Range: 3+

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“…a sweet, fantastic depiction of community building.”
—Kirkus Reviews

Turtle is big. But the ocean is bigger. And Turtle is all alone. Until four shipwrecked folks—a bear, an owl, a frog, and a cat—climb to safety on his shell. Before long, they’re fast friends, and the sea doesn’t seem so vast anymore. But when Frog confides that he misses his family, Turtle doesn’t understand. Isn’t he their family? And when the group decides to sail for home, will Turtle be left behind? Never fear—a surprise on the horizon promises friends, family, and a home at last. Uplifting and heartfelt, this is a book about the power of friendship and making a home of one’s own.

Reviews & Accolades
“Sherry’s turtle hero is proud to be “as BIG as an island,” but he’s also lonely, because the ocean is “even BIGGER.” Then a group of shipwrecked animals take up residence on his massive shell, and “Suddenly,” Turtle excitedly (and touchingly) tells readers, “things were happening.” Or, to put it another way, he becomes the foundation—literally—of a tight-knit, industrious community, where everyone has a unique and appreciated talent. Sherry (I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean) has always worked in broad strokes, both as artist and storyteller, but he finds a new level of visual subtlety and emotional acuity in this book. He lets his pictures tell the story and doesn’t shy from expressing the genuine loss that Turtle feels when the animals announce they miss their families and want to sail for home (“But wasn’t I their home?” he wonders, with plainspoken eloquence). The story resolves happily for all concerned, but what makes it especially so is the selflessness and resilience that Turtle shows when things look darkest.”
Publishers Weekly  (Starred Review)

“Sherry, no stranger to picture books featuring assertive and extra-large sea creatures (I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, Penguin, 2007), introduces a giant turtle who is as big as an island. But even giant turtles get lonely in the vastness of the sea. Turtle is surprised and excited when a storm shipwrecks an odd assortment of animals (an owl, a bear, a frog, and a cat) on his back. Each animal has a special skill, and they work together to create a makeshift community atop his shell. Things take a poignant turn when the wee animals confess that they miss their families. Turtle wonders, “Wasn’t I their family?” and is visibly distraught when his new friends set sail to return home. Sherry’s bright colors and simple shapes fill the pages, emphasizing Turtle’s massive dimensions in comic juxtaposition to his tiny friends. Preschoolers will be soothed to find that all ends well in a joyful reunion; Turtle’s friends and their families return to build a permanent community on his shell. A fun addition for larger picture-book collections.”
School Library Journal

“A fantastically giant turtle is lonely until others make themselves at home on his shell.  Seeming a bit like a riff on creation stories (though failing to acknowledge any Native American or other sources), Sherry’s story relies on readers’ willingness to suspend disbelief. Echoing the bravado of the protagonist of his debut, I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean (2008), it opens, “I’m a giant turtle, and I’m as BIG as an island.” Cheery, accompanying art, rendered in pencil and then inked and painted with watercolors and salts, depicts the giant turtle looming over a deserted island. The poor turtle is lonely until shipwrecked creatures take refuge on his shell. They end up feasting together and building homes; all is well on Turtle Island. But then the settlers become lonely for their friends and family, and they decide to depart to find them. Bereft and once again alone, the giant turtle cannot stop thinking about his new friends. Happily, they soon return with their loved ones and re-establish the Turtle Island settlement—which grows as another giant turtle arrives with a castle atop her shell and three other littler giant turtles nearby.  It’s a sweet, fantastic depiction of community building, but it’s just too bad that it doesn’t acknowledge its debt to old, old stories about the Turtle Island that is North America.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented

Building Futures
Cross-Group Friendship
Refugee Life

Turtle Island

Engagement Projects & Resources
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