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Tortuga Squad


In this hardcover nonfiction picturebook, we meet a group of kids in Costa Rica who work to save endangered turtles, patrolling the beaches for poachers and rescuing eggs to incubate in a hatchery, later to escort the baby sea turtles safely to their new homes in the Caribbean Sea. “An unusual glimpse of children as environmental activists within their own community.” – ALA Booklist. This is Book 2 in the WAKA series of books featuring kids around the world involved in wild animal rescue projects.

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“Bright photos depict the children in action, the turtles and other animals, and the surroundings. The spreads also include attractively arranged maps and drawings and deftly inserted facts about turtles…. [Burnham’s books] inspire readers to take positive action.… A wonderful addition to most collections.” – School Library Journal

Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turrtles in Costa Rica is a photodocumentary book by Cathleen Burnham, the second in her series of books featuring kids around the world involved in grassroots wild-animal preservation efforts.

In Tortuga Squad, we meet a group of youngsters in Costa Rica who patrol the beaches of Parismina Island, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, watching for sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. The kids’ role is to alert the other members of the community who wish to protect mother sea turtles and their eggs from poachers and animal predators.

It’s a dangerous place for turtles. Here, as in many places in the Caribbean, the local people living close to the water have traditionally eaten turtle meat and eggs as part of their diet. But many turtle species have sadly become close to extinction. Poaching eggs and killing sea turtles for meat is now illegal. But some people still do it.

So the turtles need extra help. This is where the kids come in. Tortuga means turtle in Spanish, and Tortuga Squad is the name the kids gave themselves for their efforts to help save turtles. They patrol the beach during hatching season. When turtles are spotted laying eggs, the eggs are carefully collected and taken to a guarded hatchery. When the eggs later hatch, the kids gather to help escort the tiny baby turtles across the sands to the ocean waters.

Cathleen Burnham first visited the island with her husband and her own children to work as volunteers to help the local conservation program. With the local village kids, she created this record of the activities of the Tortuga Squad, an inspiring example of real-life children around the globe active in grassroots projects to save Earth’s endangered wild animals.

Since then, Burnham has traveled the world, meeting extraordinary, real children who are active in wild-animal rescue programs. Her series of books and ongoing fundraising efforts, WAKA (World Association of Animals and Kids), works to bring to public attention the need for animal rescue programs and the special role children can play in these small-scale, locally-managed efforts.

Ms. Burnham hopes these stories about extraordinary kids doing creative, practical things to save wild animals will inspire others to get involved in protecting animals and natural habitats close to home and around the world.

“Readers will learn about threats to sea turtles as well as how people are helping them. An unusual glimpse of children as environmental activists within their own community.” – ALA Booklist


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