Follow the Moon Home – A Tale of Sea Turtles and Kid Activism
Follow The Moon Home:
A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles
by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Meilo So
Chronicle Books (April 2016)
Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson have written a turtle conservation picturebook that, within its short word count, is so much more. Like good poetry where every word is chosen for the most breadth and depth, this wonderful story outlines a detailed, scientific approach that young activists can use to address environmental and social problems, while laying out a great way to make new friends.
Vivienne, new to a seaside town in South Carolina, feels shy and lost. Her summer-school teacher tasks the class with seeking out a problem within their community and reporting back their findings. Vivienne bikes around town looking for a problem, but winds up lost.
Still, she keeps her mind open to problems, and on a trip to the seashore she spots one: a newly hatched sea turtle heading in the wrong direction – away from the ocean. This spells death for little turtles. Vivienne reports the happening to her class. Following her teacher’s list of instructions, Vivienne galvanizes a change in her local community that will put generations of loggerhead sea turtles on the right course to the sea.
The “New Kid In Town” subplot shows that a child will meet friends and make connections much more quickly by joining in a community action project. And Meilo So’s lovely watercolors convey Vivienne’s transition from dejected to curious and enthusiastic. Her map of the cozy town drew me in with its picturesque cinema, market hall, and maritime museum.
Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson put forward a new way of looking at the world that is a great idea for kids to form into a lifelong habit: LOOK for problems within your community and set out to fix them. Indeed, it’s a mindset we all should adopt. What a different state the world would be in if we’d all been taught to do this as a matter of course!
Hopkinson and Cousteau deliver step-by-step instructions for solving a challenge and inspiring local activism. They turn a pro-active attitude of seeking out a problem into something that’s fun and energizing, telling kids in subtle ways to keep a watchful eye on their neighborhoods and stay vigilant to problems around them. By doing so, kids and communities can take care of problems before they get out of hand. It’s great advice for more than sea turtles; it’s a guide to making a difference in every area of life.
[This book review is by Cathleen Burnham, documentary photographer and author of Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon and Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica. the first two in a six-book series profiling real kids around the world involved in wildlife rescue projects. Cathleen is a writer and photographer whose work has appeared in RangeFinder, Creative Living, Cleveland Magazine, and many other publications.]