Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘picture books about animals

BabySeaTurtleWinner of the Reader’s Favorite Five Star Seal and a finalist in Colorado Book Awards for Children’s Literature, The Baby Sea Turtle by S.A. Mahan is a delightful picture book. The text is easy to read, the art is pleasing to the eye, and there are even great messages.

In this short tale of about twenty pages, the rhyming text varies in length to make a fluent text. Some pages consist of simply one long sentence while others contain a few quick sentences. The word choices feel about right for the intended young audience, while also not being too simple. Concrete nouns, active verbs, and descriptive adjectives flow across the pages, providing a rich reading experience. My main complaint is that despite well-crafted rhymes, at times I don’t feel as if the text contains much rhythm.

The plot structure works well too. Readers are immediately made aware that Mama Turtle will not only experience the special moment of birth, but she will also need to protect her eggs from dangers. The angst is not over yet either for, when the baby turtles crawl to the sea, one is left behind. To get home, this turtle now faces a few adventures. How he ends up on a busy street, I’m not sure, but I appreciate how his rescue happens.


Artwork was created by nationally known artist Deborah Mahan, who beautifully brings this nature story to life. A variety of soft green-hued and purple-hued backgrounds create engaging spreads. Expressions of the turtles are endearing and realistic. Many other details fill the landscape too, such as pebbles, starfish, water droplets, tracks, along with the moon at night and the sun by day.

Finally, there are the positive and subtle messages. In focusing on just one turtle family, and in providing through information through the plot structure only about how turtles lay their eggs, Mahan has indirectly created a picture book that should encourage appreciation of nature. Also, in its conclusion, lay other messages such as be kind and family is love.

Anyone who purchases The Baby Sea Turtle will have access to free audio download. Other reviewers have also made the recommendation that it might be advisable to invest the extra money in a sturdy hardcover copy instead of the lightweight paper copy. Whether one borrows or buys, The Baby Sea Turtle is a worthwhile reading experience.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

I never thought I was any good. I just kept writing though.”

–S.A. Mahan, The Flume

SusanMahanAlthough S.A. Mahan only started writing for publication about five years ago, she cannot remember a time when she wasn’t making up stories and wanting to write. She waited though until her children were grown up and moved out on their own.

Living in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, Mahan conceives her stories while hiking the Rocky Mountain trails and then returns to her mountain home to write them. She raises alpacas, enjoys the fiber arts, and is an avid outdoorswoman. Real life events and situations continue to inspire her.

Now, Mahan has two books nominated for awards. “Chrissie’s Run,” written under the author’s pen name, S.A. Mahan, was a finalist in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards Young Adult Novel Competition. In addition, her children’s book, “The Baby Sea Turtle,” was one of three finalists for the 2015 Colorado Book Awards for Children’s Literature. I’ll review the latter title tomorrow. Save the date: August 25!


ALLISON: If one animal were to describe you as a child, which would it be? Why?

SUSAN: I was a little shy as a child, but inquisitive, so, actually the turtle would best describe me as a child.

ALLISON: How about as a teen? Why?

SUSAN: I hate to say it, but as a teen I was more like a monkey!! A little silly, full of energy, playful–but also somewhat reflective.

ALLISON: Who mentored you growing up? How?

SUSAN: My Mom, a wonderful Mom, and a great science teacher. She taught me to question everything, and to love animals.

ALLISON: You raise alpacas. What does a day look like for this task?

SUSAN: Well, no matter the weather, you must go outside early and feed and water the herd! You also learn to be observant, and enjoy their different personalities.

ALLISON: What do you most like about Colorado?

SUSAN: Hiking! At all times of the year! I never get tired of the majestic beauty of the mountains.


ALLISON: You have always enjoyed making up stories. Why did you wait to write until five years ago?

SUSAN: My husband traveled for a living, and I was busy raising three incredible children.

ALLISON: Why a story about a baby turtle?

SUSAN: 20 years ago, our family went to the Gulf of Mexico for a family reunion. While there, we visited with cousin Deborah,an accomplished artist, and thought it would be fun to collaborate on a book. We thought of writing about sea turtles, since we were at the beach. I wrote the story, divided it up by page, and sent it to Deborah, who came up with incredible chalk drawings. After sending it out to publishers, and getting rejected, it sat on a shelf for 20 years until Tate published my first novel, CHRISSIE’S RUN. Then I realized it was time to bring out THE BABY SEA TURTLE.

ALLISON: What was your favorite part about writing The Baby Sea Turtle?

SUSAN: Seeing the beautiful illustrations that Deborah drew.

ALLISON: The worst?

SUSAN: Being rejected several times by publishers years ago.

ALLISON: What’s next?

SUSAN: BABCOCK, THE BARNYARD SHERIFF, a story about a special rooster that broke up fights between our alpacas.

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