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  • Writer's pictureJake Evanoff

Book Review: Tamara Turtle's Life So Far

With Star Ship Reviews, our goal is to bring attention to some of the wonderful independent authors and illustrators out there. For this week's entry, we'll be looking at "Tamara Turtle's Life So Far" Written by Regan W. H. Macaulay and Illustrated by Wei Lu.

Tamara Turtle's Life So Far Regan W. H. Macaulay

The Artists:

Regan W. H. Macaulay writes novels, short stories, children’s literature, and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film, and television. She is an animal enthusiast as well, which led her to become a Certified Canine (and Feline) Massage Therapist. Award-winning books for children include her picture storybooks "Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese", "Sloth the Lazy Dragon", "Tamara Turtle's Life So Far", "Merry Myrrh: The Christmas Bat", "Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast", "Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana", the French edition "Beverlee la chatte de Birmanie", "Dog Band", and most recently, "Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot". She just released her first middle-grade novel "Peter Little Wing" (Book 1). Look for books 2 - 4 COMING SOON. Her books for adult readers include novelette adaptation of her feature film (available on Amazon Prime and on DVD), "Space Zombies!" and horror/comedy novellas, "They Suck" and "Horror at Terror Creek" (Books 1 - 3 of the "Trilogy of Horrifically Half-Baked Ham").

Wei Lu is an illustrator and graphic designer. She has loved books, cartoons, and fantasy stories since she was a kid. She grew up in China before studying at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After moving to Toronto, she worked as a graphic designer for three years, but her passion for drawing kept growing. After she illustrated her first book for a children's book author, she realized working with authors to make their characters and stories come alive brings her so much joy and fulfillment. Now she is a freelance illustrator working with authors from Canada and the US to create more great stories for children.

The Story:

"Tamara the Red-eared Slider turtle is having a rough start in life. Her new owner loses interest in her, and she is released into a nearby creek, where she does not belong. Luckily, a Good Samaritan takes her to a local animal shelter that cares for "special species" like Tamara. There, she learns about the plight of rescue turtles just like her."

The Review:

I had a great time reading through Tamara Turtle's Life So Far. It carries a really valuable lesson about animal ownership and ecosystem conservation through the perspective of a red-eared slider!

The story begins with Tamara, a baby turtle living amongst many other red-eared sliders all cramped together in a pet store tank until finally the day arrives that she's adopted! Her new life in her own tank is great to start, but over time her new owner loses interest in her and the tough decision is made to release Tamara into a local creek. Scared and unsure where to turn next, Tamara runs into a group of painted turtles who explain that this was not where she belongs because integrating different turtle species together in this way could end up hurting them, so off she went in search of a place she belongs. Eventually, a man finds her walking along the sidewalk and brings her to a local humane society where she discovers all kinds of unusual species. She's able to make new friends and grow in a comfortable environment suited for her. Her luck shined even brighter when a woman came into the shelter to adopt Tamara! She would be able to provide the best life a turtle could ask for and she would even get to live with her new friend Apple! Tamara was finally able to fiind the place she truly belonged.

I loved the heartwarming message this story portrayed and I feel like the book is perfect for any animal lover.

The beautiful illustrations really help the reader connect with our turtle protagonist on her journey to find her home.

Oh! There's even a list of information and resources about turtles and turtle rescue at the back of the book, plus a fun word scramble and maze to enjoy.

The Mini Interview:

To wrap things up, we've asked Regan to answer three quick questions for us!

What was your inspiration for the story?

Back when I was volunteering at the Toronto Humane Society, I would visit the Special Species department and visit with the turtles, almost all of them Red-eared Sliders. There were a fair few there, and I noticed how long they lived there, often years, before they finally got adopted. That’s when I decided I wanted to help in some way, and I thought the best thing I could do was help spread awareness and educate young children and their parents. These turtles get purchased on impulse when they’re small and cute and much easier to care for, but they grow quickly and their needs are many. Some end up being released into the wild, which isn’t good for the turtles or the ecosystem they’re being released into. I found Little RES Q Reptile Rescue through THS, too, and met a number of people who are knowledgeable and were able to guide me in writing the story and verifying the overall facts. After the book was published, I decided I would create similar stories. One is “Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot”, based on a true story (and a true parrot). I also have a couple of picture books that introduce young readers to forest and wetland conservation coming soon.

What was your favorite book growing up?

I don’t know if I can choose one favourite book, so I’ll mention a few. Definitely “Charlotte’s Web”—that’s right up my anthropomorphic character alley! I also remember stories read to us in class in Grades 2 & 3, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Secret Garden”. Both are big faves of mine.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring children’s authors?

I always like to remind aspiring children’s authors—all authors, really—this is a marathon, not a sprint. I know, cliché…but it’s true. Keep submitting. You may face many rejections, but keep trying. Get beta readers, or if you can hire a freelance editor to help you along the way, do it. Keep revising based on the notes you get along the way, and keep submitting. Once you find your publisher and/or agent, the marathon continues, just in a different way (think next book, marketing, events, school visits—getting yourself and your book out there). 

The Links:

If you'd like to grab your own copy of the book, it can be purchased here:

I'd also like to mention that a portion of the proceeds from each copy sold is donated to Little RES Q - Reptile Rescue

You can also directly donate at:

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