Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

World Turtle Day, June 16, 2016

Tortuga Squad 61KgIBV6yyL__SY427_BO1,204,203,200_Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Cathleen Burnham, Author and Photographer

Crickhollow Books, Photodocumentary, Jan. 3, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 7-10

Themes: Sea Turtles,  Environmental rescue, protection and rescue, Youth activism, Costa Rica, Global kids, Diversity

Synopsis: It is May and a group of children in Costa Rica are tirelessly working to protect and save the lives of sea turtles on Parismina Island. They call themselves the Tortuga Squad, which means “turtle” in Spanish.  They are on the outlook for poachers who are watching the beaches for sea turtles that come ashore to dig deep holes and lay their eggs. They steal the eggs and kill the mama turtles and eat their meat for dinner.

Meet 6-year-old Bianca, who is patrolling the beach from a hidden bush. She recognizes the poacher, waits until the coast is clear, and races to her friend Christian’s house to get help for the trapped turtle. Melanie, Dylan and other children hear the cry for help and rush with Bianca and Christian to help flip the turtle back over and watch her escape into the sea.

The Tortuga Squad patrols the beaches every evening and works hard to protect turtles and their eggs. Humans are their greatest threat. The children build a hatchery to safeguard the eggs until they hatch. Once the turtles are ready for release, the Tortuga Squad clears the beach of crabs, birds, dogs and other potential threats. They want to make sure that every little leatherback baby turtle make it to the water on its first journey over the shallow reef and to the ocean.

Tortuga kid-releasing-turtleCompliments of Crickhollow Books

Why I love the Tortuga Squad:

  • Cathleen Burnham is on a mission to find, highlight and photograph children who are united in a cause to rescue and save endangered marine and animal life around the globe. Her true and inspiring story is a call to children worldwide that they don’t have to be adults to make a difference. The kids of Parismina Island are passionate young activists who care and want to be involved in protecting the turtles.
  • The Tortuga Squad is an engaging story for readers and is perfectly paced. Keeping turtle nests safe is a busy job for the squad and readers will enjoy the important mission. There is factual information about the variety of sea turtles that visit Parismina Island to lay their eggs on the dangerous beach: leatherback, hawksbill, loggerhead and green turtles. There is also a map of Costa Rica and Central America. The Tortuga Squad is a winner and an excellent discussion book for children, parents and teachers.
  • Every page of the book is filled with rich, beautiful and moving photographs that show the young  Tortuga Squad  activists in action. Burnham also captures every aspect of life in Costa Rica including family life, the market place, and travel by boat. Burnham devotes many double-page spreads to the delicate ecosystem and the gorgeous endangered species living there, including howler monkeys, sloths, pelicans, crocodiles and beautiful birds.

Resources: To learn more about the amazing things children are doing to protect wildlife around the globe, visit the World Association of Kids and Animals (WAKA) and get involved. There is a special teacher’s guide available for classroom use. Make sure you read the Author’s Note about sea turtles and the kids of Costa Rica. Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries  website. They will observe Sea Turtle Week, June 13-17.

Cathleen Burnham is a journalist, writer and photographer. In addition to the Tortuga Squad, Burnham is the author of Doyli to the Rescue, the first “photodocumentary” book in a series of six forthcoming books for young readers that profile wildlife preservation efforts being undertaken by kids around the globe.

Doylie to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon

Doylie to Rescue 61yz1rq+bHL__SY427_BO1,204,203,200_Doylie to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon

Cathleen Burnham, Author and Photographer

CrickettHollow Books, Nonfiction, April 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-10

Themes: Amazon rain forest, Global kids, Youth activism, Wild animal rescue, Baby monkeys, Conservation and protection

Opening: “The Yagua Indian man crept through the Amazon rain forest in Peru. He had been hunting a family of red howler monkeys for hours. If he was successful, his family would eat meat that day. If not, they would go hungry.” 

Synopsis: Doyli, a 10-year-old girl with a big smile, lives in the Amazon rain forest. With the help of her family, they rescue and protect orphaned monkeys from hunters and thieves, nurse them back to health and release them to the wild when they are ready.

Why I like this book:

Cathleen Burnham has written a powerful and  inspiring true-story that carries a very strong message for children that they don’t have to be adults to make a difference. Doyli is proof of how one small act of caring can have an extraordinary impact in protecting wildlife.

This book engages readers in Doyli’s rehabilitation work from the start. It also includes a fascinating glimpse of every day life in the Amazon rain forest. Doyli does household chores, collects drinking water from the river for the family, takes a bath in the river, and travels with her brother in a dug-out canoe to school where she studies math, Spanish, and science. After school, Doyli nurtures the orphaned monkeys back to health with a special diet and her love.

I especially like how the author doesn’t judge the Yagua Indian for shooting a monkey with a poison dart. He’s only trying to feed his family. The same hunter discovers the monkey he shoots has a baby, which he delivers to Doyli’s home the next morning. He knows the baby will be cared for and released back to its natural habitat — a kind of cycle of life story. The story also shows a dark side, where Doyli discovers a man selling a spider monkey in the marketplace. With the help of the police, the man is arrested and Doyli takes the spider monkey home.

Every page of the book is filled with lush, beautiful and touching photographs that really SHOW every aspect of Doyli’s life in the Amazon, the delicate ecosystem  and the gorgeous endangered species living in the rain forest. Readers will also devour all the factual information.

Resources: To learn more about the amazing things Doyli and other children are doing to protect wildlife around the globe, visit the World Association of Kids and Animals (WAKA) and get involved. There is a special teacher’s guide available for classroom use. Make sure you read the Author’s Note about the story behind the story of finding Doyli and her family.

Cathleen Burnham is a journalist, writer and photographer. Doyli to the Rescue is the first “photodocumentary” book in a series of six forthcoming books for young readers that profile wildlife preservation efforts being undertaken by kids around the globe.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Our Earth – Earth Day April 22

Our Earth9781897187845_p0_v1_s260x420Our Earth:  How Kids are Saving the Planet

Janet Wilson, Author and Illustrator

Second Story Press, Biography, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 7 -12

Themes:  Kids Saving the Planet, Conservation, Environmentalists, Youth Activists

OpeningEvery living thing shares one home — our Earth.

Synopsis:  This is a collection of stories featuring 10 children, ages 7 to 17, who are doing amazing things to save the earth.  The youths live in every part of the world. Wilson says that nearly half the earth’s population is young.  Many are compassionate,  creative and share a love of nature.  She features Ryan Hreljac from Canada who is building wells in Africa to bring people clean water…Janine Licare from Costa Rica who is saving the rainforest and its animals…Adeline Tiffanie Suwana from Indonesia whose organization, Sahabat Alam (Friends of Nature)  plants coral in damaged ocean reefs and mangroves trees to prevent damage from hurricanes and natural disasters…Fang Minghe of China and his Green Eyes Group rush to the outdoor markets looking for endangered breeds of animals and secretly films the sellers and reports them to the police…Sam Levin from the USA who has created a student run organic school vegetable garden which supplies the school’s cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables and donates food to needy families….and William Kamkwamba of Malawi, who built a windmill to harness the wind and create electricity for his village.  These are only a few of the inspiring stories.

Why I like  this book:  This is an exciting book for Earth Day, April 22!   I have watched children activists grow in numbers worldwide for years.  Janet Wilson has written a very empowering book about young people who have a strong desire to create a healthier world.  Each two-page spread includes a portrait of each child by Wilson, photographs of their work, quotes and information about their projects.  In the opening of Our Earth, Wilson shares a version of a traditional Aboriginal story about the Rainbow Warriors, “children who have a strong love of nature and a desire to find ways to be part of the solution.”  “They are our Rainbow Warriors. ”

Resources:  Wilson devotes a section to “Kids Create!” at the end of the book where children can learn more about conservation and find ways to get involved at home, school and in their community.  You can visit Janet Wilson at her website and view her other books on peace and young activists.  I also learned about an organization, Kids Are Heroes, where kids are making a big difference in our world.  Vivian Kirkwood, at Positive Parental Participation, introduced me to this inspiring group of kids.

Mama Miti, and We Planted a Tree

The two books I am reviewing in this post are related to the Green Belt Movement to plant trees in Kenya.  They carry beautiful messages for the  world, and I believe children will find them engaging.  A wonderful way to introduce children to the Green Belt Movement and reforestation.  I also had the opportunity to hear these wonderful authors speak at the 2011 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference in August.

Mama Miti, is a picture book written by Donna Jo Napoli, about Dr. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Peace Prize recipient, who changed her country by planting trees.  The book is illustrated by Kadir Nelson, who combines oils with a collage of fabrics that vibrantly honor the spirit of Kenya and its people.  This book is simply stunning with an important message for the children of the world.

Wangari grew up listening to the stories of her elders about how the droughts came and dried up the land.  All life suffered.  But the men of her village held ceremonies under the sacred fig tree and the skies blessed them with rain.  It was because of these stories she developed a love and respect of trees and the earth.  When she grew up she planted trees in her backyard.  Over the years women came from far distances to ask the wise Wangari for advice when they were starving,  had sick cows, had dirty water, needed fire wood to cook, or lumber to build strong homes.   Wangari gave the women special tree seedlings which they planted.    Those trees grew, and the women passed along the seeds to their neighbors in their villages.   Word passed from woman to woman throughout Kenya.   Trees that had  once disappeared flourished over time.   Wangari had started a very large movement by planting one tree at a time.   Now, she is teaching the world.    She is known as Mama Miti — the mother of trees.   Her message is one of peace and living in harmony with nature.  Another outstanding book for the classroom.

Note:  Dr. Maathai, a long time activist for reforestation, passed away on Sept. 25, 2011, at age 71.   Napoli’s book is such a beautiful tribute to Dr. Maathai’s life work. 

We Planted a Tree, is written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake for pres-school to fourth grade.  Written in simple lyrical language, Muldrow’s text  adds to the beauty of the story:  “Fat little buds appeared on the branches…The sunshine went into the buds… And soon they burst open…Everywhere it was pink, and we were dizzy with springtime.”   Award-winning illustrator Staake’s pictures are colorful and inviting.  Again, Muldrow celebrates Kenya’s successful Green Belt Movement with this lovely book.

Two families from different parts of the world plant a tree.  A family in Brooklyn plants a tree in a small backyard while a family in Kenya plants a tree.  As the trees take root and grow, they begin to have an impact on the world.  They anchor the soil,  keep rainwater in the soil so that gardens can be planted, provide shade, help clean the air, provide food for families and animals, and sap for syrup.  The book offers hope to a world faced ecological issues.  An excellent book for the classroom.

 

Copyright (c) 2011,  Patricia Howe Tilton, All Rights Reserved