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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles, written by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, with illustrations by Meilo So. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2016. $23.99 ages 5 and up

"Mr. J had told us to use our own eyes, so that night Mom and I went back to the beach. As darkness fell, we could see bright lights winking on, one by one, along the shore. "THAT'S IT!" I said. "THE LIGHTS IN THE BEACH HOUSES ARE THE PROBLEM."

Kids can make a difference ... a big one! We read time and time again about young people choosing projects of importance, then mobilizing friends and community to take action. In this book, meant to encourage such behaviors, we meet Vivienne, a new arrival to a South Carolina oceanside town.

Her attendance at a summer school for outdoor activities gets her involved in searching for a 'community action project'. She searches high and low as she bikes around town. It is a Saturday visit to the beach that inspires her to learn more about a 'loggerhead turtle nesting area'. Clementine, another summer school attendee, explains some of the difficulties that baby sea turtles have in finding their way to safety in the water.

Vivienne has much to learn. A dead baby sea turtle headed away from the water sparks an idea when Vivienne and her mother stroll the beach that same night. She thinks she might know why the tiny turtle was going the wrong way! The solution is evident; the problems may be insurmountable.

She and Clementine share their thoughts with their class on Monday morning. A community project is born! They do their research:

"First we gathered lots of information. We read books.
We visited an aquarium and a sea turtle hospital.
We asked someone from the South Carolina Marine
Turtle Conservation Program to speak to our class.
We all brainstormed solutions, choosing the best ideas."

What powerful learning for each one of them! As they put their plan into action, they learn even more than they might have hoped. The culmination of a lot of hard work is heartily cheered by all.

Meilo So's unmistakable and stunning watercolors make the audience feel part of Vivienne's new surroundings. The paintings are emotional, informative and full of details that enhance the storytelling.  The text is informative and inspiring, sure to encourage young readers to think about a summer project they might undertake. After reading it, they should be able to make a clear plan of action for themselves.

Should they need further incentive, back matter includes Philippe Cousteau's letter to young activists, a note for parents and teachers, additional facts about loggerheads and other sea turtles, rules for walking on nesting beaches, and other resources.

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